Virgin Money spokesman Grant Bather says: “Yes we have just applied for a licence. This is purely an administrative procedure. Since Northern Rock we have stated our intention to become a bank. This is purely an application and it does not mean there is anything in the pipeline.”
A source close to Virgin Money said it is considering options such as launching a joint venture with another bank, buying part of Northern Rock or starting a bank from scratch.
Plans to split Northern Rock in two ahead of a possible sale are set to gain European approval next week.
The restructuring will see Northern Rock’s retail deposits and low-risk mortgages separated into a “good” bank and sold off.
Sources indicate that Virgin may bid for the “good” part of the bank.
Virgin Money would not comment on whether it was in talks with Northern Rock over buying part of the business.