The BBC has received 40 serious bids for its BBC Technology arm, writes Farah Jifri.
As part of an open negotiating process, all of the offers - said to be worth between £100m and £150m - were submitted by the end of January. The bids were whittled down to a shortlist of eight last weekend.
Although no names have been officially revealed, BT, Accenture, IBM Global Services, EDS and CSC are believed to be among those bidding.
News of the bids followed soon after the announcement of the BBC's plans to sell off BBCT, at the tail end of last year
BBC chief technology officer John Varney said: "We can confirm that the OJEC [Official Journal of European Communities] notice has now closed and we are really pleased with the response. The BBC has received lots of interest but we are not able to talk about exact details due to the commercial sensitivities of the process, which complies with normal OJEC procedure."
He added: "The successful bidder will gain a 10-year contract to deliver technology services to the BBC, and will also buy BBC Technology, including its 1,400 staff."
The winning bidder will take over BBC Technology's existing contracts and all of its assets, which are worth around £50m.
"We are making it a requirement of the tender that the whole thing goes, lock, stock and barrel, including the staff," BBC finance director John Smith said when the decision to sell was first announced.
The decision to sell BBCT came after the BBC concluded that it would be cheaper for it to contract out the services it currently receives from the company to other providers. The move is expected to save the BBC up to £300m over a 10-year period on services such as the gathering of broadcast feeds from locations around the world, engineering support and IT services.
Under the sale process, being overseen by Varney and accountants Ernst & Young, the three finalists will be chosen by the end of April, with a new 10-year contract awarded to the winner by the BBC in the summer.
BBC Technology is part of BBC Ventures Group, the commercial division of the
BBC which brings together the BBC's four business-to-business companies: BBC Resources, BBC Vecta and BBC Broadcast and BBC Technology, into one holding