- Virgin Money posted a 28% rise in annual earnings after it increases loan balances and cut costs.

Underlying pre-tax profit grew to £273.3m, as total income rose by 13.5% to £666.0m.

The lender said its cost-to-income ratio improved to 52.3%, from 57.2% in 2016.

Statutory net profit rose by 37% to £192.1m.

The company declared a final dividend of 4.1p per share, bringing total dividends for the year to 6p, up 17.6% on 2016.

Looking to 2018, Virgin Money said it expected to maintain double-digit returns and a 'progressive' dividend.

Mortgage balances were expected to grow at a single-digit percentage rate, while the banking net interest margin would be in the range of 165-170 basis points, with current guidance at the lower end of that range.

'I am delighted to report that our customer-focused strategy of growth, quality and returns continued to drive strong financial and operational performance in 2017,' chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia said.

'We generated market-beating growth across our core products as we continued to capture high-quality market share in mortgages and credit cards.'

'We maintained our uncompromising focus on asset quality and we continued to improve our operating leverage.'

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