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Apollo, Goldman Sachs Enter MBNA Europe Auction: Report

(Reuters) – Apollo Global Management and Goldman Sachs have entered the auction for Bank of America Corp.’s British and Irish credit card portfolios, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

The U.S. groups have joined forces to bid for the MBNA Europe Bank business — part of Bank of America’s MBNA credit card brand — the newspaper said, citing two people close to the situation.

That pitches them against Virgin Money, the banking arm of billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Group empire, which hopes to acquire the part of MBNA’s U.K. and Irish credit card book that is made up of its own customers, the FT said.

Virgin Money, which last week agreed to buy Northern Rock, has run its credit card operations in partnership with MBNA since 2002 and its customers account for around 3.5 billion pounds ($5.47 billion) of the total order book, the newspaper said, citing people with knowledge of the company.

As part of the deal Virgin has the right to buy this part of the business in the event of a sale, according to the article.

Goldman has not yet decided whether to contribute equity or just fund Apollo’s offer with loans from its debt funds, the FT reported, citing people close to the situation.

None of the companies were immediately reachable for comment.

Bank of America agreed in August to sell its Canadian credit card business to Toronto Dominion Bank, Canada’s second-largest lender, for around $8.5 billion.

($1 = 0.640 British Pounds)

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; editing by Carol Bishopric)