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Darling does not rule out early Northern Rock sale

Chancellor Alistair Darling has not ruled out an early sale of Northern Rock if the price is right.

Speaking at a Treasury Select Committee Budget inquiry, Darling was responding to a question over recent press reports that suggested the Government was looking to sell off the troubled lender before the end of the year.

The Chancellor said: “We have always said that our intention is to return the banks we own back to the private sector.

“However, my overriding concern is that when we come to sell, we make sure we get value for the taxpayer who has had to step in and put money into Northern Rock and indeed other banks.

“So it is not something I want to rush into. I’m not saying that if someone came along tomorrow morning and offered a fantastic price for it that of course we wouldn’t sit down and look at it.

“But if someone is coming along and offering one of these deals where basically I appear to have to pay them rather than they pay me, then I’m in no hurry to sell.”

He later added: “It is probably right to assume we are going to have these banks for a little while yet.”

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