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Virgin puts forward offer to take control of Northern Rock

Virgin Group has moved its plans further forward to take control of Northern Rock.

Tycoon Sir Richard Branson has put together a consortium of US and Asian investors, including insurance giant AIG, to take a majority stake in the troubled bank.

Virgin’s proposed partners include US insurance giant AIG, buyout business WL Ross and Hong-Kong based investment firm First Eastern Investment.

If Virgin succeeds Northern Rock would keep its stock market listing but would be rebranded as Virgin Money.

If the deal goes ahead the business would be run by Jayne-Anne Gadhia, head of Virgin’s financial services business, who was set to head up its reformed mortgage business.

Branson says the plans would inject substantial funds into Northern Rock and offer a “new banking alternative”.

Virgin says its proposal was the “quickest possible solution” to restore public confidence in Northern Rock, which was severely undermined when it sought emergency funding from the Bank of England last month.

Virgin said its consortium was not looking to buy Northern Rock but that it would inject “hundreds of millions of pounds” in return for a substantial stake.

Virgin has also said that it would keep the Northern Rock business intact and retain its links with its charitable arm, the Northern Rock Foundation.

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