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Branson set to swoop on British bank assets

VIRGIN is preparing to swoop on a string of UK banking assets to be put up for sale as part of a European Commission inquiry into competition in the sector, Sir Richard Branson confirmed yesterday.<br /><br />&ldquo;We do plan to create a Virgin bank and we will be interested in looking at the three banks that are going to be privatised to see what assets we would like to buy,&rdquo; Branson told a news conference in Italy.<br /><br />The tycoon&rsquo;s comments come as Virgin holds talks with a number of banks, including its credit card partner Bank of America, about funding a potential acquisition in the UK retail banking market.<br /><br />Branson&rsquo;s financial services arm Virgin Money last month said it had applied for a banking licence from the Financial Services Authority.<br /><br />The news comes after chancellor Alistair Darling revealed the break-up of Northern Rock and part-nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group will help to create three new banking entities on the high street within five years.