March 31, 2011 / 4:21 PM / 6 years ago

Coventry Building Society eyes Northern Rock

<p>Pedestrians are reflected as they pass a branch of Northern Rock in the City of London March 9, 2011. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth</p>

LONDON (Reuters) - Coventry Building Society, one of Britain’s biggest mutually owned financial companies, has expressed an interest in Northern Rock, the nationalised bank that is expected to be sold back to the private sector.

The building society said Northern Rock’s customers would benefit if it was integrated into Coventry’s business, since Coventry had performed relatively well during the financial crisis.

“The board believes that these credentials would benefit Northern Rock customers if it were to be remutualised as part of Coventry Building Society,” Coventry said in a statement.

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.

The government has not yet set a timetable for a possible sale of Northern Rock, and Coventry said it would take its next steps concerning Northern Rock once this was known.

Virgin Money, supermarket retailer Tesco’s banking arm and private equity firm JC Flowers have also been cited as possible buyers of Northern Rock.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Will Waterman

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