The BBC is set to announce plans to sell its commercial technical offshoot BBC Technology in a radical pre-Charter renewal move that could also signal the end of its BBC Ventures group of companies.
An announcement is expected to be made to the division's 1,500 staff on Friday (28 November), while an official notice will be posted next week with OJEC - the European body which public sector companies have to register with when they put contracts out to tender or sell off companies.
The sale would require approval from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport.
Sources have told Broadcastthat BBC Ventures - run by chief executive Roger Flynn and which also includes BBC Resources, BBC Broadcast and BBC Vecta - is being "wound down".
It is understood that a number of companies have shown an informal interest in buying BBC Technology, including BT - which is headed by former BBC chairman Sir Christopher Bland, global information technology services company EDS and IBM.
BBC Technology provides everything from the backbone for the BBC's websites to video clip streaming technology for Hutchison's 3G mobile phone service. It is based in west London but employs people across the UK and in the US, and has customers ranging from Granada, BSkyB and ESPN.
It is thought it holds the contract for the BBC's technology business - called the Technology Services Agreement - until 2006.
The company is in a healthy state financially - it reported a turnover of£220m for the last financial year - up 9.8% on the previous year - with an operating profit of£6.8m - up from a loss of£8.5m the year before.
The company was set up in April 2001 as part of BBC director general Greg Dyke's drive to better exploit the corporation's resources commercially and help him meet his target of pumping an extra£1.1bn back to the main BBC by 2006.
The company has had a turbulent recent history. Its former chief executive Philip Langsdale, who had run the company since it was formed, resigned in May last year following a dispute over the company's future direction.
Langsdale was replaced with Ann Wilson, who took over in the post of managing director in August last year.
A BBC spokesman said: "We can confirm that Roger Flynn has been leading a strategic review of technology provision in the BBC. His recommendations are currently being considered."