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Virgin applies for banking licence in UK

Virgin Money, Richard Branson's Virgin finance offshoot, has today confirmed it has applied for a UK banking licence with the Financial Services Authority (FSA). While this is not a surprise, when you bear in mind that Virgin Money had been on the verge of acquiring Northern Rock before the UK government stepped in, it has set the rumour mill rolling again in the city.

It comes at a time when the UK banking sector is under a cloud and also on the same day that the UK government has confirmed it is awaiting EU clearance to split Northern Rock in two, made up of the relatively risk-free deposit business and the more risky mortgage and loan operation. Whether Virgin Money is again looking to acquire one or more parts of Northern Rock remains to be seen, but this would perfectly complement Virgin Money's credit card, insurance and mortgage operation which has been making good progress in the UK.

While there is no confirmation that the FSA has yet agreed the application for a banking licence there would appear to be little standing in the way of Richard Branson's Virgin Money vehicle and we await confirmation in due course.

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