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Private sale looks likely
A report in The Times states that it has learnt that the fate of Northern Rock could be decided within days. The Government has told bidders that it is preparing to make an announcement after the weekend.
This would come hot on the heels of applied pressure from the European Commission for the Bank of England, the Treasury and the FSA to reach a conclusion. The European Commission will decide on whether the Government has contravened state aid rules by guaranteeing the bank's debt of £26 billion. Bidders for the bank have been asked to submit their proposals by the end of the weekend. The Treasury has, apparantly, not totaly given up on a rescue plan proposed by Northern Rock's management, however, the proposal put forward by Richard Branson is said to be the favoured option. The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, said that nationalisation should not be ruled out although a private sector sale would be the Government's preferred choice. Shareholders had already rejected Virgin's plan on the grounde that Branson's interest was biased towards Virgin's future rather than those of the bank's shareholders.
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