Privatisation of Royal Mail will not begin until at least 2013 and might not even be complete before the end of the government's present term, the Times newspaper reported on Monday.

The newspaper cited well-placed sources as saying the state-owned national postal service faces months of regulatory issues, all but ruling out any sale, partial or otherwise, next year.

The newspaper said its sources have expressed doubt that any serious investor could countenance an approach for Royal Mail without the business reporting at least one year's figures under new regulations put forward by industry regulator Ofcom.

The regulator proposed that Royal Mail, which made a 120-million pound loss on its letters business last year, will be able to charge as much as it wants for first-class stamps for letters and parcels it delivers.

However the regulator proposed a cap of 45-55 pence for stamps for second-class letters, to help vulnerable customers.

(Reporting by Stephen Mangan; Editing by Matt Driskill)