Tuesday 14 April 2015 8:56 pm

Billionaire backers Wilbur Ross and Stanhope Investments cut Virgin Money stake

Billionaire investors Wilbur Ross and Stanhope Investments last night cut their stake in high street bank Virgin Money by selling $354m (£240m) of shares in the Richard Branson-backed venture. The bank, which floated last November by raising £500m, valuing the business at £1.25bn, is co-owned by US investor Ross and Abu Dhabi-based fund Stanhope alongside Branson’s iconic Virgin brand. Banks on the deal, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, were forced to supersize the offering last night by selling 60m shares – 15m more than originally planned earlier in the day. The deal is likely to be priced 400p a share – a discount from last night’s closing price of 422p. Ross owned about 33.5 per cent of the group, a stake worth about £625m, prior to last night’s sale. In a statement, his firm said it would “remain committed to the long-term growth strategy” of the company. Both Ross and Stanhope have promised not sell any more shares in the group for another 90 days. Virgin Money, led by chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia, is one of the so-called challenger banks in the UK retail sector, and is looking to usurp established high street rivals in the sector. Virgin bought the remnants of failed bank Northern Rock from the government in 2012. It returned £50m to the government from proceeds of its flotation in November.