Virgin Money UK
|Type||Public limited company|
|Founded||3 March 1995|
|Headquarters||Edinburgh, United Kingdom|
|Number of locations||75 Stores and 5 Lounges|
|Area served||United Kingdom|
|Key people||Sir David Clementi (Chairman)
Jayne-Anne Gadhia (CEO)
|Total assets||£24.6bn (2013)|
W.L. Ross (44%)
|Subsidiaries||Church House Trust|
Virgin Money plc is a UK-based bank and financial services company owned by the Virgin Group and founded by Sir Richard Branson in March 1995. It was originally known as Virgin Direct, and pioneered index tracking by launching a value Personal Equity Plan into the market. In the 2000s Virgin Money expanded its operations around the world.
Virgin Money announced plans to become a retail bank, and attempted to purchase Northern Rock in 2007 before it was nationalised by the British Government. Virgin applied for its own banking licence from the Financial Services Authority in 2009, and gained one through the acquisition of Church House Trust the following year. Virgin bought Northern Rock plc in January 2012 and rebranded the business as Virgin Money.
It launched as Virgin Direct Personal Financial Services Limited in partnership with Norwich Union on 3 March 1995 offering PEP's and launched Virgin One, in a partnership with The Royal Bank of Scotland, in 1997. In 1997 Australia's AMP bought Norwich Union's 50% stake in Virgin Direct. In 2000, virginmoney.com was launched as a price comparison website. In 2001 RBS bought out Virgin's stake in the joint venture.
In 2002, Virgin Direct merged with virginmoney.com to form the current company. In the 2000s Virgin Money expanded its operations around the world. In April 2004 the Virgin Group took 100% ownership of Virgin Money, buying the remaining 50% stake for £90 million from AMP's HHG arm.
In 2007 Virgin made a bid to acquire the Northern Rock bank; this initial bid failed. In an interview with The Times on 9 March 2009 Branson stated that he still hoped that Virgin Money would expand its operations into the banking sector, by saying "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." In October 2009, Virgin Money applied to the FSA for a full banking licence. In February 2011 they announced their intention to lease a large office in Edinburgh.
On 8 January 2010, Virgin Money announced the acquisition of Church House Trust for £12.3 million, giving Virgin a small foothold in the UK banking market. Although Church House Trust had no branches, it provided Virgin with a banking licence. As part of the acquisition, Virgin agreed to invest a further £37.3 million of new capital into the business. On 26 January the deal was declared unconditional.
In late January Sir Brian Pitman became the Chairman of Virgin Money; Pitman had previously been an advisor to Virgin during the attempted buyout of Northern Rock in 2007. In February Pitman stated that the company was interested in acquiring some branches of other banks which lie in good locations; branches belonging to RBS and Lloyds were reported as possible candidates. Following Pitman's death Sir David Clementi was appointed Chairman. In April 2010, WL Ross & Co. LLC invested £100 million in Virgin Money for a 21% stake in the company. WL Ross had previously supported Virgin Money in their previous bid for Northern Rock. James Lockhart, Vice Chairman of WL Ross, joined the Virgin Money board.
Acquisition of Northern Rock plc
On 13 October 2007, Sir Richard Branson announced that Virgin Group were putting together a consortium of financiers to propose to plough millions into the troubled Northern Rock bank and in return take an approximate 30% stake in the business, bringing the current financial products offered by Virgin and combining them with Northern Rock's own financial products. By February 2008, Virgin were the favoured bidders for the bank and announced in its official submission to the government that, if successful, they would have merged Northern Rock and Virgin Money, naming the new company "Virgin Bank". The initial bid was not successful and Northern Rock was then nationalised.
During 2011 the Government again asked suitors to come forward with proposals for Northern Rock. On 17 November 2011, it was announced that Virgin Money were to buy Northern Rock plc for £747 million, with other potential payments of up to £280 million over the next few years. By July 2012 a further £73 million was paid as deferred consideration. W.L. Ross increased his stake in Virgin Money, owning 44% of the combined business by putting £260 million into the deal. Both Abu Dhabi-based Stanhope Investments and Branson's Virgin Group invested £50 million in the Northern Rock deal. In 2014 Virgin Money repaid a further £154.5 million that it had received as part of the refinancing package. As of 2012 the combined business had 4 million customers.
There was to be no further job losses, except for those previously announced. Virgin has also pledged to keep the headquarters of the savings and mortgages business in Newcastle upon Tyne. On 9 January 2012, Richard Branson visited the Gosforth site and some branches of Northern Rock around Newcastle, including one with temporary Virgin Money branding. Additional visits around the country continued the following day culminating in a projection show at Senate House in London.
On 22 June 2012, Virgin acquired the remainder of the Gosforth site from Northern Rock (Asset Management) plc, the 'bad-bank' which had been split from Northern Rock prior to the sale of the bank to Virgin. On 23 July it was announced that Virgin would also be acquiring £465 million worth of mortgage assets from Northern Rock (Asset Management). On 12 October Northern Rock plc was renamed Virgin Money plc and the Northern Rock brand was phased out.
In January 2013, Virgin agreed to buy £1 billion of assets from MBNA; these are the Virgin Credit Card assets which MBNA have serviced and managed in partnership with Virgin Money since 2002. The credit card book will be integrated into Virgin Money's operations in 2014, and is expected to create 150 jobs at the Gosforth offices. The former Vice Chairman of MBNA Corporation, Lance Weaver, will become Virgin Money's President of Virgin Money Cards.
In October 2014, it was announced that Virgin Money Holdings (UK) plc would float shares on the London Stock Exchange in order to raise approximately £150 million which would go towards expanding and enabling it to continue to hire and maintain its existing base of top staff members. A successful offer would lead to a final payment of £50 million to the UK Government with respect to the company's IPO following the purchase of Northern Rock.
Virgin Money's logo is focused around the main logo of Virgin Group, which is an underlined word 'Virgin' in a red and magenta gradient coloured circle. The logo was introduced in January 2012 to signify the purchase of Northern Rock, which used a magenta logo. Virgin Money's January 2012 television advert showcasing the launch of banking products showcased a number of Virgin companies and was directed by Duncan Jones and worked on by Beattie McGuinness Bungay.
Virgin Money's older logo was the word 'Virgin' in a red rounded skew rectangle, similar in shape to a credit card, followed by the word 'Money'. The previous logo had used a red logo with the word 'Virgin' in a large circle and three smaller circles above the word 'Money'. Virgin Direct's logo had been a more simplistic rendering of the company name, in white on top of a red rectangle with a semicircle attached on the left side.
As of 9 January 2012, the board of Virgin Money is composed of:
- Non-Executive Chairman - Sir David Clementi
- Non-Executive Directors - Norman McLuskie, Colin Keogh, Jim Lockhart
- Directors - Gordon McCallum, Patrick McCall
- Chief Executive Officer - Jayne-Anne Gadhia
- Chief Finance Officer - Lee Rochford
- Chief Risk Officer - Marian Watson
- Chief Operating Officer - Mark Parker
- Chief Marketing Officer - Paul Lloyd
- Corporate Development Director - David Dyer
Virgin Money's registered office is Jubilee House in Newcastle upon Tyne. The company also has offices in Norwich (Discovery House, the company's former headquarters), London, and Edinburgh (28 St Andrew Square).
Virgin took on Northern Rock's offices in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, renaming it Jubilee House. The site is next to the Regent Centre business park and comprises two black and grey buildings built in the 1990s and some additional sandstone and glass buildings built in the early 2000s.
The Chief Executive Officer Jayne-Anne Gadhia is based in Edinburgh and the savings and mortgage business is based at the Newcastle site.
Virgin Money offers a range of savings and investment products, mortgages, credit cards, insurance and pensions. The merger with Northern Rock widened Virgin Money's range from a previous focus on credit cards and insurance products, and the first savings accounts to be offered under the Virgin brand were issued in January 2012. These were gradually supplemented by other additional banking products under its own brand name. The bank is due to launch its own range of current accounts in 2014.
In November 2011, the bank opened the first of its concept lounges in Norwich, followed by Edinburgh, Manchester, London, and Glasgow with plans to open more. Virgin renamed Northern Rock's 75 branches as stores, and the first to receive a temporary Virgin makeover opened on 9 January 2012. Richard Branson has also indicated in interviews that he would like to open branches at railway stations; Virgin Group's Virgin Trains operates a number of train stations. The full rebranding process, which also included the combining of the Northern Rock website into the existing Virgin Money website, was completed by October.
The bank is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Virgin Money subscribes to the Lending Code, and is a member of the Financial Ombudsman Service, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and UK Payments Administration.
Virgin Money Giving
Virgin Money Giving is a charitable not-for-profit company set up by Virgin in October 2009. From 2010, the Virgin Group signed a five-year deal to be the official sponsor of the London Marathon; the inaugural Virgin London Marathon was on 25 April 2010. This sponsorship led to the creation of Virgin Money Giving, with the aim "to help all fund-raisers raise more money for good causes". This sponsorship was also extended to at least 2017, and from the 2014 race it will be known as the Virgin Money London Marathon.
Northern Rock also had its own charity, the Northern Rock Foundation, which Virgin Money supported until 2014.
Virgin Money leads the sponsorship of the London Marathon. Virgin Money also lent its name to the yacht that Sir Richard Branson used to attempt to break the transatlantic record. Since 2011 Virgin Money has sponsored events at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Virgin Money were the shirt sponsor of Newcastle United F.C. for the 2012–13 season, a club that had a sponsorship deal with Northern Rock since 2003. Newcastle United's shirts also displayed the Virgin Money logo for the remainder of the 2011–12 season, fulfilling Northern Rock's deal at the time of being bought by Virgin. To coincide with the launch of Virgin Money's rebranded stores, Richard Branson appeared in Newcastle, wearing a Newcastle United shirt, with a number of Newcastle United's footballers. The deal between Virgin Money and Newcastle United had also covered the 2013–14 season, but the club decided to end the deal a year early.
Virgin Money are the title sponsor the Cyclone, the UK's biggest cycling festival, which had previously also been sponsored by Northern Rock. The first Virgin Money Cyclone was held in Summer 2012.
In 2003, Virgin Money launched its first venture outside of the UK by introducing its credit cards in Australia. In 2006, Virgin Money South Africa launched with a credit card initially in a partnership with ABSA. In 2007, Virgin Money launched in the USA after the Virgin Group made a majority stake investment in CircleLending, a company that facilitated peer-to-peer loans. Virgin Money USA entered into dissolution on 1 November 2010.
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