Luqman Arnold, the former boss of Abbey, has pulled out of the bidding for the corpse of Northern Rock. This gives Chancellor Alistair Darling something of a headache, as he and Gordon Brown are desperate to avoid nationalising the Wreck.
Unfortunately for the government there are only two bidders left, thus reducing the chances of a viable solution that is favourable to the Treasury and taxpayer.
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Northern Rock's management team are now the only players in the game, thus reducing the ability of the Treasury to call the shots.
Needless to say, Darling is trying to twist Arnold's arm to return to the table; and he may be offering Arnold some extra concessions.
Perhaps that is exactly why theatrically Arnold pulled out at the eleventh hour?