Sir Richard Branson's foray into U.K. financial services is gathering speed, but in this country, he needs a new driver.

In the two and a half years since Sir Richard's Virgin Group Ltd. bought CircleLending, a Waltham, Mass., company that arranges loans between friends and relatives, the unit has gone around in a circle. Renamed Virgin Money Holdings USA Inc., it tried to break into mainstream mortgages by buying a wholesale lender, only to sell that business one year later. And in June, Virgin Money lost its chief executive.

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