Virgin secures funding for RBS branch offer

Virgin Money has secured financial backing as it seeks to press ahead with a bid for RBS branches.

The consumer credit arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin group has arranged financing from Abu Dhabi-based sovereign wealth funds and private equity firm Blackstone, ahead of a bid for 320 Royal Bank of Scotland branches.

The branches have an estimated book value of around £2bn and would provide the platform Virgin needs to become a big hitter in the banking market.

Other suitors looking at the RBS branches include Spain’s Santander, eager to expand its business banking footprint in Britain, and National Australia Bank. Virgin Money entered Britain’s retail banking market earlier this year after buying private bank Church House Trust in a £50m deal.

It confirmed it has hired boutique bank Greenhill to help prepare a bid before the 6 April deadline for submissions of interest. Greenhill is working alongside Quayle Munro to calculate the value of the deal for Virgin and put together a bid. Santander is being advised by Credit Suisse and Lazard.

National Australia Bank is being advised by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.