Virgin team named Northern Rock preferred bidder

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LONDON, Nov 26 (Reuters) Ailing British bank Northern Rock named a consortium led by Richard Branson's Virgin Group as its preferred bidder on Monday.

Virgin will immediately repay 11 billion pounds (.6 billion) of the estimated 25 billion pounds the bank has borrowed from the Bank of England and there is a clear path to repaying the central bank loan in full, Northern Rock said in a statement.

Some 1.3 billion pounds of new cash and Virgin Money will be injected into Northern Rock -- with half the cash coming from the consortium and half raised through an offer to existing shareholders at 25 pence per share. If the offer is fully taken up, the Virgin consortium will hold no more than 55 percent of the enlarged group.

REUTERS SLD RS1334

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