CORRECTED-Virgin Money makes $993 mln provision for troubled loans

(Corrects to remove word ‘fresh’ from headline and ‘further’ from first paragraph)

Feb 2 (Reuters) - Lender Virgin Money has set aside 726 million pounds ($992.59 million) to protect its balance sheet from potential loan losses, as it reported a “modest” increase in the number of customers needing additional support after exiting pandemic payment holidays.

The UK’s sixth-largest lender, set up to challenge the dominance of more conventional and bigger banks in the region, said on Tuesday it had granted Mortgage payment holidays on 12.1 billion pounds of loans as at December 31, equivalent to around 21% of balances, compared with 11.9 billion pounds at its full-year.

Virgin Money also posted a 0.3% fall in the size of its loan book to 72.2 billion pounds during its first quarter, as fresh coronavirus restrictions put pressure on customer borrowing.

The bank reported 735 million pounds of bad loan provisions at its full year. ($1 = 0.7314 pounds) (Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru, editing by Sinead Cruise)