British business magnate and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson has declined to comment on which of two remaining bidders his company prefers, according to a reports.
“As the founder shareholder and licensor of the Virgin brand, Virgin Group will continue to engage with the administrator, bidders and management team in bringing Virgin Australia out of administration in a sustainable way for the benefit of customers, employees and communities in Australia,” a spokeswoman told The Australian.
“We have been greatly heartened by the amazing public support for Virgin Australia and we are pleased that the process being run by the administrator has attracted such a high quality group of bidders committed to the revival of the airline.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Deloitte administrators announced that the shortlist had been whittled down to Bain Capital and Cyrus Capital Partners.
While Sir Richard has remained tight-lipped about the sale, both bidders have ties to his flagship Virgin Group. Bain Capital and Virgin Group invested jointly in the cruise industry with Virgin Voyages, while New York-based Cyrus has teamed up with Sir Richard over Virgin America and the ill-fated Flybe.
While Bain has committed to sticking with the current Virgin branding, it is unclear whether either company will be willing to stump up the 1 per cent annual turnover fee typically associated with the name.
However, recent weeks have seen both companies publicly advocate their case, with Bain declaring itself on 25 May to have the “strongest capital base of any of the bidders”.
Final binding offers and a decision on the sale of the airline are expected towards the end of the month.