The UK’s Virgin Money is out of the race to buy
the 318 Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) branches being sold by the
majority-state owned lender, after being told informally it was
excluded from the auction on 7 May.

UBS, handling the auction on behalf of RBS,
told Virgin not to progress with its proposal.

But RBI understands that the financial
arm of entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin will now pursue
organic growth, with the aim of building a 70-strong branch network
over the next 3 or 4 years.  

Virgin had been one of the four remaining
bidders for the branches, along with Santander, Spanish rival BBVA
and Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks owner National Bank of

Last month, US businessman Wilbur Ross
acquired a 21 percent stake in Virgin Money for £100 million ($152
million) boosting the bank’s chances of becoming a full-service
retail bank (see RBI

Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin
Money, said the investment was a “significant endorsement” of its
plans to build an alternative for consumers in the UK