Britain's Metro Bank ramps up lending to challenge bigger rivals
* Loans jump 350 pct in 2013
* Operating loss of 10.8 mln stg in Q4
* Opening one new branch every month
LONDON, Jan 23 (Reuters) - New British lender Metro Bank said on Thursday it increased lending by 350 percent in 2013 as it continued to pick up customers from its more established rivals.
Metro Bank, which launched in 2010 as Britain's first new high street lender for more than a century, said its lending amounted to 755 million pounds ($1.25 billion) at the end of 2013, up from 168 million at the start of the year. Customer deposits and total assets both more than doubled to 1.3 billion pounds and 1.9 billion pounds respectively.
The bank, founded by U.S. entrepreneur Vernon Hill, has been championed as an alternative to Britain's 'big four' lenders - Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and HSBC.
Metro already has 25 branches in London and the southeast of England. It is opening new branches at a rate of one a month and expects to create 500 new jobs in 2014. However, it has yet to make a profit.
The bank made an operating loss of 10.8 million pounds in the fourth quarter, which it said was due to investment in new branches and staff.
Chief Executive Vernon Hill told Reuters on Monday that Metro Bank was on track to make a profit next year, having doubled its number of customer accounts last year.
The bank announced on Sunday that it had raised 387.5 million pounds ($636 million) to fund its expansion plans by selling stock to institutional and private investors. It is planning a stock market listing in 2016. ($1 = 0.6030 British pounds) (Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Susan Fenton)
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