Potential bidders for Northern Rock are pressing the government to waive a £2bn interest bill on the stricken bank's outstanding £20bn loan. The Guardian

Bidders are arguing for more lenient lending conditions to Northern Rock in return for safeguarding valuable jobs in the north-east of England.

Northern Rock has set a deadline of Friday for all interested parties to submit their proposals. Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and three private equity firms have indicated they might bid for the bank, though none of them have released details of their plans. Northern Rock's advisers have also canvassed another 50 potential investors, including some in China.