Queensland has hinted it could partner with one of the two remaining bidders to purchase Virgin Australia.
Treasurer Cameron Dick said on Wednesday morning that the Queensland Investment Corporation, who he appointed to lead his interest in the airline, had “very positive engagement” with both Cyrus Capital Partners and Bain Capital.
In mid-May, the state declared it was a “serious contender” for a reborn Virgin Australia, adding that it was determined to maintain jobs in Brisbane. Yesterday, the shortlist of prospective buyers was reduced, with private equity firm BGH Capital and US aviation company Indigo Partners knocked out ahead of a 30 June deadline.
In a short statement released to Australian Aviation, Treasurer Dick added, “The Queensland government remains committed to ensuring that Virgin Airlines remains as Australia’s second airline, that its headquarters remain in Brisbane, and that as many regional routes are maintained as possible. This is a positive step forward.”
Earlier, it was unsure in what form any potential move for the business would take, with Dick claiming it could be a “direct equity stake, a loan, guarantee or other financial incentives”.
“Virgin administrator Deloitte has set an ambitious time frame and we look forward to delivering on this mandate for the Queensland government,” said Damien Frawley, the man leading the potential purchase, back then.
The dramatic move came after a public row between Queensland, NSW and Victoria, who all hinted they wanted Virgin’s headquarters moved to their capital city.
At one point, Minister Dick told NSW to “back right off” and said, “There is nothing more dangerous than Queenslanders with their backs to the wall. It’s a nonsense to think the Prime Minister would even consider a NSW plan to move the airline there.”
On Tuesday, Deloitte’s Vaughan Strawbridge said both Bain and Cyrus “are well-funded, have deep aviation experience, and see real value in the business and its future”.
Cyrus Capital is the bidder most closely linked to Sir Richard Branson, and Australian Aviation has previously reported speculation that it plans to maintain the business as a full-service international airline.
Meanwhile, Bain Capital publicly outed itself as a contender on 25 May to declare it had the “strongest capital base of any of the bidders” and would be a “committed partner for Virgin Australia with a proven track record”.
Strawbridge said in a media statement on Tuesday, “Over the weekend through to today, we assessed the proposals received from shortlisted bidders and discussed their proposals with them to ensure a thorough and comprehensive assessment has been undertaken.
“There will also be speculation that entities associated with the parties that have not moved into this next phase, as well as others, could become involved in some capacity with the remaining parties. That will, of course, be a matter for them.
For more of our in-depth coverage of the purchase of Virgin Australia, read: