Centrica is currently in advanced discussions with private equity group Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) and venture capitalist CVC Capital Partners over the sale of the AA motor group.

A decision between the two could be as early as next week. But industry sources said that Centrica may not get the full asking price of £1.5bn.

It is understood that Centrica currently favours CVC's bid over rival US-based KKR. Cinven, meanwhile, has made it clear that it is unhappy with the way Cazenove secretly invited a select group to enter the bidding arena. A source close to Cinven said: "We were definitely not shown the door to the auction process."

An acquisition of the AA is highly attractive for CVC and KKR as it fits in with their core businesses. CVC owns Kwik-Fit, while KKR owns Bristol West and has a stake in Willis.

Selling the AA will mean Centrica can focus on its core energy business. The proceeds of the sale will go towards buying more power stations, gas fields and help with its intended expansion into Europe and America.