UK Financial Investments, the body that administers the taxpayer’s stake in bailed-out banks, opened itself up for a “beauty parade of investment banks” yesterday.
It said that it is considering a range of options, but most observers think a sale of the Northern Rock “good bank” – as opposed to the “bad bank” privatised last year – is most likely.
The “good bank” includes all of Northern Rock’s branches, deposits and IT systems, with estimates that the assets will fetch a price close to £1.5bn.
Credit Suisse is thought to be in good standing with UKFI, having handled a lot of government work during the financial crisis.
Goldman Sachs has also been cited as a strong contender, but industry sources queried whether it is in pole position given it was dropped as an adviser after a previous deal involving Northern Rock.
The sale is likely to attract strong interest from a range of banks which are looking to expand their presence in the UK. Virgin Money, NBVK Investments and National Bank of Australia are all thought to be interested.