Nationalised Northern Rock plans to start offering credit cards and personal loans again as it readies itself for sale to the private sector, the group revealed today.

The bank - the so-called good side formed when the institution split in two earlier this year - says it has the platform to offer a greater variety of retail banking services in a "safe way" (see the Best Bank Accounts guide).

Chief executive Gary Hoffman says the bank is moving in the right direction for a sale to the private sector, but stressed this would happen "only when conditions are right".

"In due course we could think about expanding the product range again," he adds.

This could include credit cards and unsecured personal loans, as well as an expansion of its current account offering (see the Cheap Loans guide).

Northern Rock pulled its loan and credit card business after the bank's collapse amid the credit crunch in 2007.

Mixed results

The news came as the first set of results were released since the demerger on January 1 - which created a mortgage and savings bank called Northern Rock PLC and hived off the bank's more toxic loans into Northern Rock Asset Management (AM).

Half-year figures show Northern Rock AM returned to profit in the first six months amid a steep fall in bad debts.

It reported underlying pre-tax profits of £167.3 million in the six months to June 30 compared with a loss of £243.9 million a year earlier.

But its sister firm reported an underlying interim loss of £140 million as it was hit by rising costs.

The "good" Northern Rock also lost nearly £2 billion of retail savings after the removal of the Government's 100% savings guarantee in May.

Deposits dropped to £17.6 billion from £19.5 billion at the start of the year, although Northern Rock also says the savings balance fell as it withdrew more generous products and closed its offshore savings operations in Guernsey.

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