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Written by rosalind renshaw

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Money is in talks to buy Norwich & Peterborough.

Virgin is among several bidders in talks with the embattled building society, which last week lost its appeal over a Keydata case, meaning that it could now be liable to make a huge payout to others who lost out in the mis-selling scandal.

Also reported to be in the running for N & P are Co-operative Financial Services, JC Flowers – which recently completed a deal with Kent Reliance – and other building societies, including Yorkshire, Coventry, Leeds and Principality.

The auction to buy N & P, which has 500,000 members and 45 branches, is being handled by Fenchurch Partners. A conclusion is expected within weeks.

If Virgin were to take N & P over, it would achieve a platform to achieve an acquisition of Northern Rock, which wants to return to private ownership and recoup some money for the taxpayer.

Northern Rock is poised to announce that it made losses of some £230m last year.

It is to accelerate its disposal of 600 branches, as required under the terms of the taxpayer-funded bail-out. This week, it is likely to appoint advisers to handle the sale.


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