Land Securities, has told the consortium bidding for its Trillium outsourcing division that it hopes to conclude the £950m deal around Christmas.

The company has moved to calm fears that the sale could be pulled after its half-year results last week revealed a pre-tax loss of £1.7bn. Land Securities said that the sale was still being worked on, but 'timescales for transactions are protracted in the current environment'.

A source close to the bidding consortium, which includes property investor William Pears group and Australian bank Macquarie, said: 'The information we're getting is that the deal is still on. If it goes through, Trillium should be sold at the end of this year or early next.'

Meanwhile the Middle Eastern investors linked to the deal earlier in the year, are understood to be keen to bid for the outsourcing arm. 'We are still very much interested in pursuing this. We haven't given up yet,' said a Middle Eastern source.

Independent on Sunday