Branson plays down interest in RBS branches

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SIR Richard Branson has played down rumours that Virgin Money is at the forefront of a bidding war for 316 bank branches put back on the market by RBS.

The founder of Virgin Group told City A.M. yesterday that while Virgin Money could look at the assets, “the bank is singing, and it’s doing great... I think they could just continue to expand organically”.

Virgin Money, which took over Northern Rock last year, now makes one in three new mortgage approvals in the UK, he added.

RBS is selling the branches as part of its 2008 bailout deal. Santander dropped its £1.7bn offer last week after years of negotiations, citing “ongoing delays and... uncertainty”.

“I’ve read about RBS branches being up for sale and it’s not something Virgin Money needs to do,” Sir Richard said. “My feeling at the moment is that organic expansion makes the most sense,” he added.