Nationwide to buy Virgin Money for £2.9bn


Nationwide Building Society’s proposed acquisition of Virgin Money UK for £2.9 billion marks a significant move in the banking sector, creating a formidable lending powerhouse and accelerating consolidation trends among smaller banks in the UK.

Under the terms of the deal, Nationwide plans to offer 218p per share in cash for Virgin, along with a 2p-per-share dividend to its investors, bringing the total consideration to 220p. This offer represents a substantial 38% premium to Virgin’s closing share price, reflecting the attractiveness of the deal for Virgin shareholders. The acquisition would result in the formation of a financial group with assets totaling £366.3 billion and total lending and advances amounting to £283.5 billion.

The acquisition resolves months of speculation surrounding Virgin’s future. Despite being the sixth largest bank in Britain, Virgin has faced challenges in driving growth and competing with larger high street rivals without significant investment. Nationwide’s interest in Virgin underscores the ongoing consolidation trend in the banking sector, with smaller lenders seeking strategic partnerships to bolster their competitive positions.

For Nationwide, the acquisition of Virgin represents an opportunity to expand its reach and diversify its offerings further. Despite the takeover, Nationwide will retain its mutual status, staying true to its cooperative principles. Kevin Parry, Nationwide’s chairman, sees the deal as accelerating the building society’s strategy and creating a stronger and more diverse mutual institution.

However, the proposed acquisition may face resistance from some Virgin shareholders regarding the valuation. While Virgin’s chairman, David Bennett, views Nationwide’s offer as attractive value for shareholders, questions remain about whether investors will find the valuation satisfactory, especially given the smaller premium offered compared to recent takeover deals in the London stock market.

One notable aspect of the deal is the gradual phasing out of the Virgin Money brand, as Nationwide plans to cease using the name over a six-year period following the completion of the acquisition. This move addresses potential concerns about branding arrangements between the bank and Virgin Enterprises, Richard Branson’s business empire, and paves the way for Nationwide to fully integrate Virgin’s operations into its own.

Overall, Nationwide’s acquisition of Virgin Money UK represents a significant development in the banking sector, with implications for both companies and the broader landscape of financial services in the UK.