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Northern Rock for sale

Three and a half years after Northern Rock was nationalised, the once ailing bank seems set to return to the private sector.

Chancellor George Osborne will announce in his Mansion House speech that the bank is to be put up for sale, indicating that confidence in the sector is on its way back.

In the speech, which Downing Street has kindly leaked to the media, Mr Osborne is expected to say: 'Images of the queues outside Northern Rock branches were a symbol of all that went wrong, and its chaotic collapse did great damage to Britain's international reputation.

'Its return now to the private sector would help to rebuild that reputation. It would be a sign of confidence and could increase competition in high street banking. We could start to get at least some of our money back.'

Those readying to make a swoop for the bank include Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Money, the Coventry and Yorkshire Building Societies, and even Tesco Bank.

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