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Branson nears deal to return to Virgin

written by Adam Thorn | October 6, 2020
Virgin Blue’s E-170s have been in operation since October 2007 while the E-190s entered service in March 2008. (Seth Jaworski)
Virgin Blue’s E-170s have been in operation since October 2007 while the E-190s entered service in March 2008. (Seth Jaworski)

Sir Richard Branson is close to finalising a deal to retake control of 5 per cent of the reborn Virgin Australia, according to reports.

The Sydney Morning Herald has even suggested that Sir Richard is pushing for a bigger stake of 10 per cent, which would seemingly include access to the Virgin branding, too.

The news comes alongside a confirmation by the state of Queensland that it will sign 10-year deal to acquire around 2 per cent of the company, which will ensure it retains its base in Brisbane.

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The wider Virgin Group held a 10 per cent stake in the airline before it collapsed into administration in April. The next month, investors Bain beat out Cyrus Capital Partners to become the administrator’s preferred bidder, but the decision wasn’t rubber-stamped until a final creditors’ meeting on 4 September.

The AFR first reported on Monday that Sir Richard’s company had agreed a deal to re-acquire 5 per cent deal of the new airline, before The Sydney Morning Herald speculated that the British businessman was hoping for twice that.

Prior to administration, Virgin Australia was paying the larger Virgin group $15 million to use its branding. However, rebranding the airline again would be a costly exercise given the volatile market.

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson

The move was expected after he broke a months-long silence to endorse Bain as the new owners on the eve of the final creditors meeting to rubber-stamp the succession.

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“I have confidence in the revival plan for Virgin Australia, and Virgin will be working closely with Bain to rebuild the airline,” Sir Richard said.

“As the founding shareholder, I am extremely proud of what Virgin Australia has achieved over its first 20 years.

“We look forward to helping to create the next important chapter, as Virgin Australia get back to flying and connecting Australia once again.”

Despite his small stake in the business, Sir Richard was the most vocal investor when the airline collapsed, releasing an Instagram message to staff within hours of the administration being confirmed.

“This is not the end for Virgin Australia and its unique culture,” he said. “Never one to give up, I want to assure all of you, and our competitor, that we are determined to see Virgin Australia back up and running soon.”

https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_OF9y5AEB9/?utm_source=ig_embed

The Virgin Group is already involved in a joint venture with Bain, called Virgin Voyages.

Meanwhile, Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick said on Monday that the state would sign a deal to take a stake in the new airline.

“It will be a 10-year agreement and that will secure the headquarters and as many jobs as we can in Queensland,” said Treasurer Dick.

9 Comments

  • Mark

    says:

    Why would they want him ? Just an attention seeker.

  • Gary

    says:

    Hope they go OK. always liked the product. Sadly, it looks like the 777 fleet will be disposed of and USA flights abandoned. That is an issue for me and I suggest thousands of others who despise Qantas and their pitiful service and pricing. I specifically went to Virgin and Velocity for the points and the pleasure of going to LAX in the 777. If that is now not a reality may as well go Rex internally and “I dont know who” to USA. I love the 777…. hell my email is reflective of that, so if the 777 goes I will also leave Virgin. Since 2010 I have flown (rather paid for) about 28 return Brisbane -LAX tickets for my family plus lots of proportionate domestic fares. make no mistake, if Rex have a good product, people will move

  • Marum

    says:

    Could be a good move by the Queensland Govt., if it ensures that the HO. stays in Brissie.

    There is no doubt we need all our HOs, including the ones we elect. 😉

    Puuurrr….Marum Katze.

  • Andrew Franklin

    says:

    Great news for Sir Richard Branson to be back involved in his Original Virgin Airline..

  • NotHappy

    says:

    So why is it that Mr Branson gets a deal when all the other creditors receive 9 cents in the dollar? He gets a license fee for the Virgin brand name, surely he is not hard up for the money. Why should he have another crack at it when he had 10% of the airline that went broke? Why is he not putting his hand in his pocket and giving something back to all those that supported him?

    • Adam Thorn

      says:

      To be fair, he was one of the few shareholders who was willing to put money in to save the airline – it was the others who wouldn’t join him. It’s also the case that he took money out of Virgin Galactic to help prop up his companies. Love him or loathe him, he had the guts to front up and release a video speaking to staff within minutes of administration. I think his stock among employees at his brands is still pretty high.

      Thanks for your comment though, and keep them coming!

      Adam

      Adam

  • NJP

    says:

    Will Virgin still be a virtual international airline with code shares on Etihad, Singapore, Delta & Virgin Atlantic

  • Tim

    says:

    Best business class service and flights between BNE and LAX. Flew with QANTAS once not a patch on Virgin. The bar was better than the Emirates A380 and more comfortable with the new fit out.

  • Rod Pickin

    says:

    Garry, Hi I am with you regarding the VOZ B777-300ER’s. To my knowledge the 4 remaining units are owned, not leased and at the moment these are the only Australian owned long range high pax and cargo aircraft available for use in this country. All about us, we see examples of some aircraft being used as freighters none of which have much financial benefit to this country. At this time we should be exploring every opportunity to utilise the assets we have to further our countries needs, clearly we have the skilled people and the aircraft to achieve this now but where are they, “Parked”; it does not compute

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