By Lea Pachta

- Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Money sells 21% stake to American billionaire, Wilbur Ross for £100 million.

Virgin Money Holdings (UK) Limited (“Virgin Money”) has announced today that it has reached agreement on a strategic investment from WL Ross & Co. LLC (“WL Ross”).

Under the terms agreed, WL Ross will commit £100m of new capital to Virgin Money and will become a 21% shareholder in the Company. James Lockhart, Vice Chairman of WL Ross, will also join the Virgin Money Board. The transaction and Board appointments remain subject to FSA approval.

The strategic investment from WL Ross will provide new capital to allow Virgin Money to accelerate the expansion of its full-service retail bank and the creation of a branch network. It also provides WL Ross with the option for further investment should an appropriate acquisition opportunity present itself.

The investment follows Virgin Money's recent acquisition of Church House Trust, which provided the platform and banking license from which Virgin Money will develop a retail banking business in the UK — offering a full range of products to consumers under the Virgin Money brand.

Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group, said: “I am delighted that WL Ross has decided to invest and partner in our vision for a new way of banking. Our ambition is to make everyone better off through good value and transparent products backed by a great customer experience”.

Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., Chairman of WL Ross said: “We are impressed with Virgin Money's well deserved reputation with UK customers and with its growth strategy. We look forward to supplying substantial additional capital to support Virgin's acquisition program.”

Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Chief Executive of Virgin Money, said: “The investment from WL Ross is a significant endorsement of our banking plans and will help Virgin Money build a real banking alternative for consumers in the UK market. Virgin Money will provide an improved and differentiated form of banking to its customers, based on the core principles of fairness, simplicity and value that are synonymous with the Virgin brand. This will provide customers with real choice in an industry that has become highly consolidated in recent years”.

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