BRANSON EXPANDS HIS EMPIRE TO BANKING

THE VIRGIN Group staked its claim to new territory yesterday as Sir Richard Branson’s financial services business announced that it has won the auction to buy nationalised lender Northern Rock for £747m.

The acquisition creates a new challenger bank with 75 branches, over 4m customers and a brand already familiar in travel, media, and leisure to take on the big five high street giants.

Virgin vowed to shake up the retail banking market, known for poor customer service and a legacy of bad loans, and expects to lend out £45bn to customers over the next five years.