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Gap-filling move sees Virgin Direct brand disappear

The Virgin Direct brand is set to disappear following its integration with

Virgin Money in a bid to offer a direct gap-filling operation.

Royal Bank of Scotland is taking full ownership of lender Virgin One,

buying the two 25 per cent shares of Sir Richard Branson and Australian

giant AMP for £100m.

The Virgin Direct/Virgin Money deal will see AMP and Virgin maintain a

50/50 stake in the venture, which will be known as Virgin Money.

The move will give Virgin Money users access to both Virgin own-brand

products, including Isas and stakeholder pensions, and products from a

number of other providers through the Virgin Money branch of the service.

Virgin Direct, established in 1995, was among the first direct phone

players and made much of its plans to shake up the way consumers were

serviced by traditional intermediaries.

AMP and Virgin say the development follows the relaxation of the UK

regulatory regime on polarisation concerning direct-offer ads. This gave

the green light to the integration of the two Virgin businesses in April.

Virgin believes its gap-filling approach will be the financial services

model of the future and does not expect the FSA to intervene. Royal Bank of

Scotland says it intends to distribute loans through its bran-ches and IFAs

under the Virgin One brand.

Branson says: “We will grow our range of Virginbranded products while also

offering customers the option of buying from the best of the best companies

across a much wider range of products.”

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