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Australian analysts leak 'secret information'

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Richard Branson's Virgin has attempted to dampened speculation that it is set to open an Internet bank to compete with Egg, Smile and e-bank in Britain. The company said that a plan to create a Net bank was just one of a number of options currently being considered by the financial branch of the group, Virgin Direct. Virginmoney.com would offer a range of financial services and is rumoured to launch as early as June. But a spokesman for Virgin Direct said: "We do have a number of things in the pipeline -- this is just one of them. "We're just formulating ideas at the moment -- I have nothing more to say," he said. Despite Virgin Direct's efforts to pour a bucket of cold water over the matter, the Telegraph's source for the story is just about as rock solid as they come. Apparently, this secret information was made public at an analysts' meeting in Australia by the insurance company AMP. AMP owns 50 per cent of Virgin Direct. A spokesman for Virgin Direct denied there was any conflict with its Australian partner over the premature release of the company's plans. Yesterday, Britain's biggest bank, Lloyds TSB, announced its intention to create an online bank. ®

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