Northern Rock is expecting to receive between six and eight proposals – most priced aggressively low – for buying all or some of the stricken bank. Financial Tiems, Daily Telegraph, Independnet, Guardian

The bank and its advisers Blackstone, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch have set today as the deadline for indicative proposals.

Northern Rock’s borrowing from the Bank of England soared by £2bn in the past week, bringing its total debt to the taxpayer to £25.3bn.

The Government has given the bank until February to sort out its difficulties, but it is keen to see Northern Rock’s future resolved much sooner.

The chairman of Northern Rock said there was still a good chance of shareholders getting some of their investment back, despite the bank's sale prospectus inviting bidders to break it up.

Adam Applegarth, chief executive of Northern Rock, sold over £2.6m of shares at peak prices while still urging thousands of employees and investors to buy shares when the company was facing trouble.