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Has Richard Branson scaled back his expansion plans?

The news that Virgin Money has acquired Church House Trust, one of the U.K.'s smaller regional banks, took many in the market by surprise with speculation that he was looking towards the Northern Rock. However, has a Richard Branson really scaled back his expansion plans?

Purely and simply the acquisition of Church House Trust gives Virgin Money access to a UK banking licence and the ability to expand what is a small operation. Rather than acquiring Northern Rock, which has problems and issues going back many years, the acquisition of Church House Trust will give Richard Branson something of a clean slate to start with. An outlay of just over £12 million also leaves a large pot for future expansion and future growth of the operation.

Even though many in the City are surprised at this move there is no doubt that Richard Branson has a mind of his own and often "thinks outside the box" which is why he has been so successful in the past. Whether he can actually shake up the UK banking arena and inject more competition in the medium to longer term remains to be seen but those who write off the serial entrepreneur do so at their own risk.

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