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UK challenger banks: looking for consolidation in all the wrong places

Expectations of further M&A following CYBG’s approach to Virgin Money might be wildly optimistic.


It was not the set of results that Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank Group (CYBG) CEO David Duffy wanted to announce, given that his bank had made an ambitious £1.6 billion bid for rival Virgin Money just over a week beforehand.

On Tuesday, the UK lender revealed a first-half loss of £76 million, thanks in part to a £350 million charge for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance. There was a deafening silence on the progress of the proposed merger itself.

Euromoney spoke to Duffy in November 2015 when the idea of a merger was already on his mind. “The only path to consolidation is if we’ve earned the right to the conversation with investors,” he told us then. “We have to deliver on this franchise.”

Whether that has happened is clearly open to question. Nevertheless, in early May, CYBG pitched an all-share deal to Virgin Money shareholders, offering them 1.13 CYBG shares, which would leave Virgin Money with 36.5% of the merged organization.

The logic of such a merger is clear, but it is not the deal that Duffy envisaged when he spoke to Euromoney two and a half years ago.

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