Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group ups UK banking ante

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group ups UK banking ante
Former AIB CEO David Duffy

Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banking Group (CYBG) — which is headed up by former AIB CEO David Duffy — 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 to shake up the market.

The bank has pledged to further cut costs and to package up offers with other Virgin companies on holidays and flights after its £1.7bn all-share takeover of rival lender Virgin Money last year.

At CYBG’s capital markets day in London, the firm also pledged to make an additional £50m in annual savings from the Virgin Money deal, taking the total saved by 2022 to £200m. The bank’s chief financial officer 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 £15m 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.

Mr 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 pressuring lenders’ profitability.

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.

- Reuters and Irish Examiner

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