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Tesco mulling bid for Northern Rock

LONDON, Jul 1 – Britain\’s biggest retailer Tesco is a potential bidder for nationalised bank Northern Rock, which the government is reportedly considering selling later this year, The Times newspaper reported Wednesday.

It said the supermarket chain had shown "provisional interest" in buying the bank, which was taken into public ownership last year after it ran into severe funding problems because of the international credit crunch.

The Times has previously reported that the government is looking to sell the bank later this year, and on Wednesday suggested the intention was to offload it before the next general election, due by June 2010.

Virgin has also expressed an interest, the newspaper reported.

A Tesco spokesman said the report was "pure speculation".

And a spokesman for the Treasury department said: "Any decision will be taken in the best interests of financial stability and of the taxpayer.

"Our only focus is our discussions with the European Commission around the restructuring of Northern Rock and the implementation of Northern Rock\’s new mortgage lending."

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