Northern Rock is thought to have contacted Asian banks such as Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Bank of China as it stepped up its efforts to find a buyer. Financial Times. The Times

Northern Rock’s advisers are trying to drum up a more competitive auction for the embattled bank and want to lure dozens more potential buyers. They are looking at a sale of the business, a possible restructuring or a solution that would include a combination of both.

Yesterday, ICBC said it was unaware of any discussions with, or interest in, investing in Northern Rock. ICICI Bank of India is thought to have been sounded out but yesterday made it clear it was not interested.

Savers have withdrawn £10.5bn from Northern Rock since the lender appealed to the Bank of England for emergency funding in September, according to the sales document sent out to possible buyers.