Olivant, one of the two main suitors for Northern Rock, has said it will pull out of the auction for the stricken mortgage lender unless the bank's board agrees to recommend a bidder by Christmas, The Independent reports.
In a letter to Northern Rock's board, Olivant demanded that the company sould decide between its proposal and the rival interest from Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Money consortium in the next 11 days.
Olivant also said it would quit the race if it did not get equal access to the banks lined up to fund whatever solution is found to Northern Rock's crisis.
The ultimatum from Olivant, headed by former Abbey National boss Luqman Arnold, came after Northern Rock indicated it would wait until mid-January to decide between bids. Mr Arnold has said he is ready to run the bank immediately, and that any delay would weaken Northern Rock's business.
MEANWHILE… ADAM APPLEGARTH, the chief executive of Northern Rock, has quit "with immediate effect", parting company with the stricken mortgage bank almost two months earlier than expected, according to The Times.
The bank said it was replacing Mr Applegarth with Andy Kuipers, a 20-year veteran of the bank, "in order to hand over to management who have a future at the company".
It said: "Andy has very detailed knowledge of Northern Rock, having been at the company for 20 years. He has previously been responsible for sales, marketing, products, pricing and retention. He has recently been intimately involved in the strategic review process and so is very familiar with the situation.
"With Adam leaving Northern Rock, Andy is the best person to be CEO through this period."
SOME OF BRITAIN'S most promising young entrepreneurs have presented a 16,600-name petition to Downing Street calling on the Government to scrap its plans to increase capital gains tax, The Telegraph reports.
Duncan Cheatle, founder of networking firm The Supper Club, handed in the petition ahead of an announcement of concessions by the Chancellor, now expected on Monday.
The petition against the 80% rise in capital gains tax (CGT) on business assets drew support from across the business community and is backed by all the main employers' bodies and The Daily Telegraph.
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