Bank of Scotland's Christmas wish to complete its bid for National Westminster Bank will not be granted.
The new timetable for the £27bn hostile takeover attempt will go beyond the original December 17 closing date. The new date will not be known until rival bidder Royal Bank of Scotland posts its formal offer document.
Some BoS advisers had looked at forcing an early decision on its offer before the uncertainty over whether the government will allow RBS's bid to go ahead has been lifted.
BoS received a further blow yesterday when Natwest questioned whether BoS had properly assessed both the difficulty of merging the two banks' IT systems and the possibility of losing customers in the takeover aftermath.