Virgin Australia Group’s chief executive Paul Scurrah has revealed more than 10 parties have expressed interest in recapitalising the company after it entered voluntary administration on Tuesday morning.
In a hastily arranged press conference with new Deloitte administrator Vaughan Strawbridge, the business confirmed it had no plans to make any immediate job cuts, staff would continue to be paid or receive JobKeeper payments, and that they hoped to wrap up a deal to save the airline in the next “two to three months”.
The airline group earlier confirmed its collapse on Tuesday morning, after the announcement leaked the previous evening. The business was struggling to service a $4.8 billion debt pile with little revenue coming in.
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The press conference brought good news for staff, customers and shareholders after Scurrah revealed “in excess” of 10 parties were interested in investing.
“Obviously, we have to keep those parties confidential, but they are in excess of 10 parties, who are known to us who have got a keen interest in being part of the restructure of Virgin,” Scurrah said.
Strawbridge also cited his determination to wrap up the process as quickly as possible, describing potential suitors as “very sophisticated parties”.
“We plan to run that process very hard with our advisers, in order to make sure that that process is as short a period of time as possible,” he said.
“We are calling for expressions of interest, which we expect we will receive within the next couple of weeks.
“There will be a flier going out today, an information memorandum going out next week, and then we’ll define the process and the timetable at that point. But we expect to be in the position to know what the outcome will be, or likely to be, over the next two to three months.”
Scurrah said the company would come out of administration “leaner, stronger and fitter”.
“We take comfort from the comments from the government that this country needs a robust and healthy two-airline market. And because of this procession we’re going through, because of the early decision of our board, that airline will be Virgin Australia,” he said.
Scurrah added that he was also in constant contact with Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, and said he “cares deeply” about the airline.
“I talk to Richard on a regular basis. It must be remembered that Richard takes a lot of pride in this company and it’s one of the airlines he pays a lot of attention to,” he said.
“Richard’s portfolio has hotels, cruise lines and airlines, so you can understand that Richard is hurting. But he’s doing everything he possibly can to help us get through this and maintains a strong interest in participating going forward.”
The high profile businessman released an Instagram video for staff shortly after the announcement of administration was made.