Virgin Group seeks licence to become High Street bank

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Sir Richard Branson is looking to obtain a licence for his Virgin Group in a bid to become a High Street bank and return to the mortgage market.

The billionaire entrepreneur told The Times: a�?We are going to get back into the mortgage business and we will become a bank either by acquisition or by getting our own banking licence. You will see us become a consumer bank within the next couple of years.a�?

Virgin, which was unsuccessful in acquiring crisis-torn Northern Rock, sold its Virgin mortgage product, Virgin One, to Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) more than five years ago.

Branson wants to take advantage of the lack of confidence in existing banks, which will give Virgin the opportunity to quickly gain a share of the market.

It is understood that the group is keen for the Government to break up RBS, which is now 70% owned, which would give Branson the opportunity to purchase parts of the bank, and branch out onto the High Street.

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