The Government took its first formal step in returning nationalised bank Northern Rock to the private sector today as it announced plans to hire advisers.
UK Financial Investments (UKFI) - the body charged with overseeing the Government's banking assets - launched a tender for corporate finance advisers to look at the strategic options for Northern Rock, including a sale.
But UKFI stressed no decisions had yet been made.
"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," it added.
Northern Rock was nationalised in February 2008 after it collapsed amid the credit crisis, sparking the first run on a UK bank for 150 years.
The Government split the bank in two at the start of last year, forming a mortgage and savings bank called Northern Rock plc and Northern Rock
Asset Management to house the more toxic loans.