Sun Life Financial issued a release Monday acknowledging that it is exploring "strategic alternatives" to grow its MFS Investment Management business.

The company said the company has hired investment bankers but that "there is no assurance that a transaction will result." Nonetheless, speculation continues that MFS is up for sale.

Meanwhile, there have been reports that Morgan Stanley is the investment bank that has been hired, and speculation continues that T. Rowe Price, Ameriprise Financial, Putnam Investments, Nuveen Investments and Franklin Resources are five companies interested in making a purchase, possibly between $6 billion and $8 billion.

Four months ago, Morgan Stanley Analyst Ken Zerbe issued a report looking at Sun Life's various options for MFS. He concluded that the company did not have the scale to generate industry-average margins. "The most likely option," Zerbe wrote, "is that the management will sell a majority ownership position to another asset management firm," retaining a stake of between 20% and 30%.

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