The embattled U.K. bank, Northern Rock, is living on borrowed time. All signs point to a takeover, even if the bank itself continues to send out mixed signals and is rumored to have appointed an administrator in the event of a breakup or a wind-down. Questions remain, however, about the future of the Granite Master Trust.

Northern Rock is determined to present itself as a "business as usual" entity, despite its recent loss of retail customers. Last Thursday, Northern Rock introduced a simplified mortgage-product lineup to draw more customers. The bank has simplified its LTV tier rates and withdrawn its 18-month fixed rates for all types of mortgage products except buy-to-let.

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