Northern Rock to be "sold by end of year"

A pedestrian walks past a branch of the Northern Rock bank in the City of London February 23, 2009. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

LONDON (Reuters) - The government is to sell off Northern Rock by the end of the year in a bid to reclaim taxpayers’ cash, The Sunday Times said without citing sources.

The paper said advisors Credit Suisse has started to draw up the sale plan, which is linked to moves to split the nationalised bank in two.

The bank’s most toxic loans are to be siphoned off into a “bad bank” that will remain in government hands.

Virgin Money, National Australia Bank, Santander and private equity firms Blackstone and TowerBrook have all been sounded out about the deal, the paper said.

A spokesman for the UK Treasury declined to comment on the report.

Reporting by Ben Deighton, editing by Elaine Hardcastle