THE Bank of England has named British printer De La Rue as preferred bidder for its banknote printing contract.

The company, which has printed Britain's banknotes since 2003, is expected to sign an extended 10-year contract next month and to commence printing in April 2015, the Bank said today.

De La Rue, which makes more than 150 national currencies and UK passports, employs about 400 workers at a factory in Gateshead, and operates a plant in Debden, Essex.

The Bank first outsourced its banknote printing in 2003, which De La Rue won following a tender process.

The extended contract is said to be worth about £1bn.

The news comes almost two years since the Bank launched a formal public procurement process for the printing of its banknotes.

Philip Rogerson, De La Rue chairman, said: “We are delighted that De La Rue has been selected as the preferred bidder for this very prestigious and important contract with the Bank of England.”

The final contract award announcement is expected next month, once the Bank of England has completed due diligence checks.