June 19, 2019 / 1:40 PM / a month ago

RPT-UPDATE 2-Britain's Clydesdale bank commits to Virgin Money rebrand, more cost cutting

(Repeats without changes)

* CYBG acquired Virgin Money in all-share deal last year

* Bank to rebrand fully within two years

* Lender pledges an additional 50 mln stg of annual savings

By Iain Withers

LONDON, June 19 (Reuters) - Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group has laid out plans to challenge Britain’s big banks, betting that a re-brand as Virgin Money and growth in business banking will help it shake up the market.

The bank pledged to cut further costs and package up offers with other Virgin companies on holidays and flights after its 1.7 billion pound ($2.13 billion) all-share takeover of rival lender Virgin Money last year.

At CYBG’s capital markets day in London on Wednesday, the firm also pledged to make an additional 50 million pounds in annual savings from the Virgin Money deal, taking the total saved by 2022 to 200 million pounds ($251.16 million).

The bank’s CFO Ian Smith told investors the additional savings would primarily come from efficiency gains, but repeated a previous estimate that around 1,600 jobs in total would likely be axed.

CYBG hopes its association with high profile entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin brand will help fuel growth.

The bank has agreed to pay 15 million pounds a year to use the Virgin name, with other companies carrying the name selling services ranging from holidays, flights, gyms and hotels to broadband internet.

The bank will start rebranding as Virgin Money by the end of this year and will complete the process by 2021.

Investors reacted positively to the refreshed strategy, with shares up nearly 5% at 13.00 GMT.

TAKING ON THE BIG BANKS

CEO David Duffy told investors the bank’s Virgin Money deal would help it “disrupt the status quo”.

But like other so-called challenger banks CYBG faces tough trading conditions, with increased competition and economic uncertainty sparked by Brexit pressuring lenders’ profitability.

Despite the rally on Wednesday, CYBG’s shares are down more than a third since the bank first made an offer for Virgin Money last June.

Britain’s banking market is still dominated by a clutch of major lenders, including RBS, Lloyds and Barclays.

CYBG said the enlarged bank would put a greater emphasis on growing in business and unsecured lending, while just maintaining market share in Britain’s competitive mortgage market.

The lender re-affirmed its guidance that is net interest margin – a key measure of underlying lender profitability – would come in at 165-170 basis points this year. ($1 = 0.7964 pounds) (Reporting by Iain Withers, editing by Sinead Cruise and Alexandra Hudson)

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