Virgin Money's mortgage lending pie grows

(File)
(File)
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London - British bank Virgin Money Holdings (UK) said gross mortgage lending jumped 34% in the first quarter, helping it win a 3.6% share of the UK mortgage market.

The bank, backed by founder Richard Branson and US financier Wilbur Ross, said it started the second quarter with a strong mortgage pipeline and continued to expect net interest margins of up to 160 basis points in 2015.

"We have reasonably been able to achieve a 3-3.5% mortgage lending market share till date, which is at the top end of our expectation outlined at the time of the float," chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the first female CEO of a listed British bank, told Reuters.

Gross mortgage lending rose to £1.6bn ($2.46bn) while net mortgage lending increased 82 percent during January-March to £664m.

Mortgage balances at March 31 were £22.6bn, up 3% from end-2014.

"We continue to be positive about growth prospects for the franchise and the ability to meet its targets given the low reliance on base rate rises to achieve NIM growth," Canaccord Genuity said in a note.

The Newcastle-based lender's gross mortgage lending share is based on Bank of England (BoE) data for January and February and the Council of Mortgage Lenders estimate for March.

Lending to British consumers jumped in March by its biggest amount since before the financial crisis and business borrowing showed its strongest rise in at least four years, the BoE said.

Virgin Money, which went public in November, has been looking to challenge Britain's big lenders - Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and HSBC Holdings.

Spanish bank Sabadell's offer for TSB Banking Group, a rival to Virgin Money, has fuelled expectations of consolidation among smaller banks as they strive to gain the scale required to take on larger rivals.

OneSavings Bank Plc also said in March that it was open to takeover offers and was hoping for more consolidation.

CEO Gadhia, however, declined to speculate on any possible acquisitions.

"We don't have any particular imperative at this point in time to look at anything other than strongly continuing to grow organically," she told Reuters.


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