Richard Branson's Virgin Money Climbs Following IPO

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According to a statement released today, shares in the lender sold for 283 pence (444 cents) each, meaning that the company is valued at £1.25 billion ($1.96 billion). The stock sold at the lower end of a range that went as high as 333 pence (523 cents) per share. By 11.40 a.m. GMT the stock had risen 1.2% to 286.5 pence (450 cents).

Virgin Money IPO: Reasons for caution

The IPO had been delayed due to a stock-market sell-off in Europe, with Virgin Money one of at least five IPOs that were postponed or withdrawn over the past few months. Stock market caution presumably influenced the low pricing of the stock. Aldermore Group Plc also delayed a sale in October.

“To put into context what the bottom of the range means, at 283 pence that’s a $2 billion valuation,” Chief Executive Officer Jayne-Anne Gadhia, 53, said in a telephone interview. She claims that the valuation positions the company “extremely well against similar businesses.”

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No issue with regulatory requirements

Following an announcement from the Bank of England detailing unexpectedly low minimum regulatory ratios for banks, Virgin Money decided to resume its sale. Back in June the lender reported a 3.8% leverage ratio, which already put it above the regulatory requirement. Shares in major British banks surged following the announcement.

Due to terms agreed between Virgin Money and the U.K. government, British taxpayers stand to receive approximately £50 million ($78.5 million) in cash upon the completion of the IPO. Virgin Money bought Northern Rock for £747 million following its rescue by the taxpayer during the 2008 financial crisis. Northern Rock was the first U.K. bank to suffer a run in more than a hundred years.

Institutional investors purchased shares through WL Ross & Co., the company run by U.S. billionaire Wilbur Ross. The sale was led by Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS).

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