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Tiresome action-billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin group is in talks to take the helm of listing mortgage outfit Northern Rock, it's been revealed today.

Northern Rock is on the block after it had to be bailed out by the Bank of England last month. The fallout from the sub-prime crisis spanked its ability to raise finance.

Branson has reportedly tapped US and Middle East money men to finance his bid.

Earlier this year, he had to hit the brakes on the attempt to offload the Virgin Media clusterf*ck to private equity because of the same credit crunch that's made Northern Rock vulnerable. Irony? He's heard of it... and is probably thinking of a way to relaunch it under the Virgin umbrella.

A deal would see the bank brought under the Virgin Money brand. We're sure the Virgin halo effect that has so spectacularly failed to deliver results for NTL's Virgin Media punters and shareholders will come up trumps for Northern Rock's worried customers. ®

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