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March 10, 2009

Virgin unveils banking ambitions

by Gill Montia

Story link: Virgin unveils banking ambitions

Virgin Group has plans to become a High Street bank within the next two years.

The group was heavily involved in the bidding process for Northern Rock, before the lender was nationalised in February of last year and Virgin’s founder and chairman, Sir Richard Branson, has now told The Times newspaper that the group intends to apply for a retail banking license.

The company is also proposing to return to the mortgage market, although it may achieve both its ambitions through acquisition rather than organic expansion.

According to reports, Virgin is on the lookout for opportunities that could arise out of the break-up of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Last month, RBS announced that it was selling at least one-fifth of its business and had identified between £200 billion and £300 billion worth of global assets as non-core.

The majority state-owned bank owns the Virgin One online banking brand, which it purchased in 2003.

Mr Branson is optimistic that in today’s market he will be able to build market share quickly, bearing in mind the collapse of confidence in the existing UK banking sector.


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