NEWCASTLE-BASED lender Virgin Money is on course to be the only FTSE 350 firm with an all-female leadership cast after confirming it is in talks to appoint Irene Dorner as chairman.

The bank is in “advanced discussions” with Ms Dorner, who ran HSBC's US arm for three years until 2014, as a replacement for outgoing Glen Moreno.

A statement read: “The company is in advanced discussions with respect to the appointment of Irene Dorner as independent non-executive director and chair elect to the Virgin Money board of directors.

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"Any appointment would be subject to regulatory approval."

The news comes after chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia spoke of rampant sexism in the City in front of MPs.

She said: “I remember a very senior woman being very upset one day telling me that she was expected to sleep with her boss.

“That sort of thing of course means there are issues for women progressing through financial services.”

If appointed, Ms Dorner and Ms Gadhia will make up the first all-woman leadership team at a British bank and in the FTSE 350 index of companies.

The former HSBC woman hit the headlines in 2012 when she apologised in front of a US Senate committee on the bank's behalf for its involvement in serious misconduct issues in Mexico, Iran and Syria.

Ms Gadhia last week told The Northern Echo that Virgin Money, which employs about 2,000 people in Newcastle, was building momentum after deposit balances hit £30bn – higher than it ever was under Northern Rock.

The bank paid the Government £747m for the so-called ‘good bank’ element of Northern Rock in 2011.