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Virgin Money steps up bid to buy RBS branches

Richard Branson's Virgin Money operation has hired a professional adviser with regards to a potential offer for the 320 Royal Bank of Scotland branches put for sale by the company. The branches have a book value of around £2 billion and the potential interest shown by Virgin Money will be well received by the UK government after the auction appeared to be falling by the wayside with only one credible offer on the table at the moment.

So far the only firm interest in the operation has been from Spanish giant Santander, which owns the Abbey network in the UK, although National Australia Bank and BBVA (a prominent Spanish banking institution) may well join the fray. It will simply be a case of the highest bidder being successful as the UK government is looking to bring in as much money as possible to pay-off at least part of the debt to UK taxpayers.

The UK financial sector has been crying out for greater competition for some time and if Virgin Money is successful with an offer then this should inject competition into many areas of the banking arena. However, nothing has yet been decided and everything now hinges on the 6 April deadline for offers of interest, at which point the situation will become clearer.

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