A bidding war has erupted over British money manager Gartmore PLC - and NationsBank Corp., which recently entered a joint venture with the firm, is holding some of the high cards.

On Friday, Paris-based Banque Indosuez placed its 75% stake in Gartmore on the market. The action triggered NationsBank's option to buy up to a 25% position in Gartmore, which manages $34.5 billion in pensions and other institutional investments.

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