Announcement expected with full-year results.

The future of Royal Bank of Scotland Insurance (RBSI), the UK’s third largest insurer, will remain uncertain until February next year, a spokesman said this week.

Following reports that CVC and Swiss Re had emerged as the most likely candidates to buy RBSI, he said discussions were ongoing but any deal would be announced with full-year results in February.

A consortium led by CVC, a private equity group, is thought to be interested in the brands Direct Line and Churchill. NIG, the broker-only commercial business, could be hived off afterwards.

Commentators have said any deal will take time as the bank is part-owned by the government, making due diligence complex and cumbersome.

But the RBSI spokesman said: “It would be wrong to assume this would halt the process. Government influence is at arm’s length.”

RBS put its insurance arm up for sale in the summer. In May this year analysts predicted the sale would generate about £7bn. However, this price is no longer likely.

Barrie Cornes an analyst at Panmure Gordon & Co, said: “We think the business is worth around £5.5bn.

We’d be surprised if it went for more.”