RPT-UPDATE 1-UK's Northern Rock launches securitisation issue
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* Securitisation deal could be worth some 370 mln stg
* N.Rock says deal will diversify its funding base
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LONDON, March 22 (Reuters) - Northern Rock [NRTRK.UL], the British bank which was nationalised after nearly collapsing during the credit crisis, launched its first public securitisation issue in a deal which could raise some 370 million pounds ($602.3 million).
Northern Rock said the size of the transaction was expected to represent around 2 percent of its 18.6 billion pound balance sheet -- implying it could be worth roughly 370 million pounds.
The retail and mortgage bank added that the cash raised would help diversify its funding base.
Northern Rock was nationalised three years ago after becoming the first major British bank in more than 150 years to suffer a bank run.
The government has long been keen on returning the bank to the private sector, since selling Northern Rock would raise cash to cut the country's troublesome deficit, and analysts consider an eventual sale as the most likely outcome.
Virgin Money, supermarket retailer Tesco's (TSCO.L) banking arm and private equity firm JC Flowers have all been cited as possible acquirers of Northern Rock.
Earlier this month, Northern Rock reported a 232 million pound loss but said it was on the "right trajectory to profitability." (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Myles Neligan) ($1=.6143 Pound)