Virgin Money seeks to buy Llyods, Northern Rock branches

Virgin Money, the banking arm of Sir Richard Branson's business, is seeking to raise around £2 billion to fund the takeover of branches of Llyods Banking Group and Northern Rock.

The Norwich-based bank has held talks with large institutions as well as private equity and individuals and expects to have capital in place before making a bid, the Financial Times yesterday reported.

Following the UK government bailout during the global financial crisis, the European regulator had ordered both banks to shed assets in order to meet competition rules.

Lloyds is selling around 600 branches, while Northern Rock is hiving around 70. Both banks will issue more details to bidders on the exact structure and performance of the asset packages they are selling, said the paper.

Other bidders interested in the branches could be National Australia Bank, which owns the Clydesdale, private equity firm JC Flowers and NBNK, the investment vehicle set up by Lord Levene, chairman of the Lloyd's of London insurance market.