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Govt bank sell-off should be in public interest

Virgin Money chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia believes any bid for a share of the Government’s stake in the state-backed banks should be subjected to a public interest test to safeguard competition in the market.

Giving evidence to the Treasury select committee today as part of its inquiry into competition and choice in banking sector, Gadhia said any potential acquisition should be vetted.

Gadhia said: “If we are serious about competition and using acquisition opportunities to enhance competition, we should be applying a public interest test to make sure those acquisitions actually are good for competition.”

Gadhia also said she had plans to turn Virgin Money into one of the UK’s top six banks.

She said: “My ambition would be to be the fifth or sixth biggest bank in the UK actually and to attract customers giving great service and great products.”

She added Virgin plans to open around 70 branches in the UK over the next five years and she said the bank would not rule out acquisitions if appropriate.

Virgin bought small regional bank Church House Trust last January, providing it with the necessary platform to develop a retail banking business.

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