The UK Shareholders Association, which campaigns for thousands of small investors, is recommending that Northern Rock shareholders vote in favour of resolutions that could block efforts to sell the stricken bank. Observer, Financial Times

If that happens, the government may be forced to nationalise it or put it into administration.

A special meeting to consider the proposals is due to be held next month after resolutions were tabled by hedge funds RAB Capital and SRM Global, which now have more than 17 per cent of the shares; both were adding to their holdings in the market last week. The vote is due on 15 January.