Virgin Money has today taken over a small private bank, making its first move towards building up a retail banking business in the UK.
Virgin, which already offers personal finance products including credit cards and insurance policies, will pay £12.3m for Church House Trust, a regional bank based in Yeovil and Leeds. Virgin is also expected to inject more than £37m of new capital into Church House Trust.
The buyout has already been approved by the Financial Services Authority and will provide the firm with the banking licence it needs to begin taking retail deposits and offering mortgages under the Virgin Money brand.
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Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group, said: ‘The Church House Trust business offers us a strong platform for growth. Virgin Money aims to bring simplicity to the UK banking market which has traditionally been a complex sector.’
Which? Chief Executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: ‘Consumers will welcome the prospect of more choice on the high street. There’s a definite appetite for switching accounts if people feel they’ve been badly treated by their bank.
‘New entrants in the market offering genuinely competitive products should spur other banks into working harder to keep their customers happy, which should result in better products and higher levels of service.’
Find the best bank account for you
If you’re fed up with your bank – whether it’s because you’re being paid a poor rate of interest or are sick of bad customer service – why not take your business elsewhere?
Which? has launched the Vote With Your Feet campaign for 2010, urging consumers who aren’t being treated well by the companies they deal with to switch providers.
Our independent current accounts review could help you find the best bank account for your needs, whether you’re after a high in-credit interest rate or in need of a low-cost overdraft facility. Our How to switch current accounts guide also contains everything you need to know about changing your bank.
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