Wilbur Ross says Virgin Money to bid for Northern Rock

TOKYO (Reuters) - Virgin Money will submit a second round bid for nationalised bank Northern Rock on Tuesday, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, who is a major shareholder of Virgin Money, told Reuters in an interview.

“We are big investors in Virgin Money, Richard Branson’s company, and we are backing Virgin in their bid for Northern Rock,” the chairman and chief executive of WL Ross said during a trip to Tokyo.

“We are actually putting in the bids tomorrow. Tomorrow European time.”

In July, Virgin Money first submitted an expression of interest in Northern Rock.

Northern Rock was fully nationalised three years ago after nearly collapsing during the credit crunch. Chancellor George Osborne said in June that he aimed to find a buyer for it this year.

Ross also said he was interested in boosting his investments in Japanese private equities.

“We have altogether about $10 billion (6.27 billion pounds) of private equity and so if we were to put 10 percent of that in Japan it would not be a surprise,” Ross said after speaking at an event for the Japan Society, of which he is chairman.

WL Ross currently has a few hundreds of millions of dollars invested in Japanese private equity, he said.

Ross also said he was very interested in the Japanese shipping sector.

“A number of the Japanese shipping companies are struggling and we would be very interested to try to be helpful to them, with capital and perhaps with some relationships,” Ross said.

He did not name any potential targets. Japan's top shipping firms include Nippon Yusen 9101.T, Mitsui OSK Lines 9104.T and Kawasaki Kisen 9107.T.

Reporting by Chikafumi Hodo