NEW YORK (

TheStreet

) --

Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Report

has discussed a sale or joint venture involving its Van Kampen mutual fund unit, according to reports by

Bloomberg

and trade publication

Pensions & Investments

.

One possible deal under discussion involved Morgan Stanley taking a stake in Atlanta-based

Invesco

(IVZ) - Get Report

, the

Bloomberg

report stated. Other firms approached about possible deals were

Nuveen Investments

and

Aberdeen Asset Management

,

Bloomberg

reported. A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman declined to comment. Spokespersons at Invesco, Nuveen and Aberdeen could not immediately be reached.

Like most large financial companies, Morgan Stanley recovered from a near-death experience last fall following the bankruptcy of

Lehman Brothers

. However, its performance has lagged rivals such as

Goldman Sachs

(GS) - Get Report

and

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

this year, due to a more cautious approach to putting its capital at risk.

The reports are somewhat surprising, since asset management, particularly for retail clients, has appeared to be an increasing part of the bank's strategy coming out of the crisis. Morgan Stanley acquired a majority stake in

Citigroup's

(C) - Get Report

Smith Barney brokerage unit earlier this year, and mutual fund products and retail brokerage are often seen as complementary businesses.

--

Written by Dan Freed in New York

.