University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust has pulled out of the bidding process to run neighbouring George Eliot Hospital Trust, making it appear certain a private firm will be involved in its management.

The withdrawal, on Tuesday, leaves two private companies – Circle and Care UK – and South Warwickshire Foundation Trust left in the running.

George Eliot announced a shortlist of five possible bidders shortly before Christmas but Ramsey Healthcare withdrew last month. The trust’s board agreed in August 2011 that it had no future as an independent organisation and would have to merge or be run as a franchise by another body.

Andy Hardy, chief executive of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust, said: “Due to a combination of technical issues and our desire to focus even more on our future sustainability and bid for foundation trust status, we have taken the strategic decision to withdraw our bid.”

George Eliot’s chief executive Kevin McGee said: “The process to find a strategic partner will continue with the remaining shortlisted organisations and we look forward to reviewing their detailed solutions to protect and develop services at the trust.”