Advisers sought ahead of Northern Rock sale

18 January 2011

The British government has taken the first steps to selling Northern Rock, after it was announced that a tender for corporate finance advisers had been put out by statutory body UK Financial Investments (UKFI).

Although UKFI insisted that the possible sale of the bank was just one of a range of options on the table, it confirmed it was looking to hire experts to help it decide precisely where Northern Rock's future should lie.

"There is no presumption at this stage that any particular option will be pursued and no timeframe has yet been set for the return of the company to private ownership," the organisation said in a statement published this week.

Northern Rock was the subject of the first run on a British bank for 50 years back in February 2008, following which it was nationalised despite interest from private suitors including Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Money.

Last month, the Guardian speculated that the lender could fetch as much as £1.5 billion ($2.4 billion) when it is eventually sold off by the government.

By Claire Archer

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