French asset manager Amundi moved one step closer in its pursuit of Pioneer after entering into exclusive negotiations with its Italian parent Unicredit.
The Italian lender is selling a number of its assets as part of a turnaround plan set to be unveiled on 13 December by new chief exec Jean-Pierre Mustier.
And Paris-based giant Amundi is now firmly in the box seat to beat rivals to picking up Pioneer in a €3.5bn (£2.9bn) deal.
Bids from Poste Italiane and Ameriprise Financial have been sidelined by Unicredit as Amundi trawls deeper into Pioneer's books in advance of what is hoped to be a final offer.
Alongside the Pioneer sale, Mustier is planning to jettison Unicredit's Polish operations as well as a multi-billion euro portfolio of non-performing loans. It is hoped the sales will encourage investors to participate in a reported €13bn rights issue.
Unicredit shares were volatile in trading this morning following the Italian government's overnight referendum loss. They were down over five per cent at lunchtime today.
In November, Aberdeen Asset Management admitted it had withdrawn from the bidding process for Pioneer because it couldn't quite afford the €3.5bn price tag.