Sir Richard Branson is looking to sell Virgin Atlantic before the end of May after failing to secure a government bailout with his £ 80 million private island as collateral.
The billionaire’s pursuit of £ 500 million in taxpayer intervention has in fact been put on hold, and the airline is focusing on getting new support from private investors.
About fifty potential lenders would have learned about the company – with contenders presenting options for injecting debt, equity or convertible loans, which could potentially leave the face of the Sir Richard brand without residual stake.
“All options” would remain on the table after Virgin Atlantic-hired investment bank Houlihan Lokey surveyed more than 100 possible financial institutions.
Potential investors would include Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Wall Street investor Cerberus Capital Management.
Sir Richard Branson plans to sell Virgin Atlantic before the end of May, reports say
Lansdowne Partners – a hedge fund founded by George Osborne’s best man, Peter Davies – would have been interested, but a A spokesperson denied the organization was involved in a refinancing of Virgin Atlantic, and said it “had no interest in doing so.”
Several parties could form consortia while reviewing the airline’s financial information.
Sources told the Sunday Telegraph that Houlihan Lokey was looking to complete the rescue before the start of June.
A possible transaction option could see Virgin Atlantic put into administration, it is understood – with sources claiming that accounting firm EY would be the first to take a possible appointment.
One of the richest men in the world, Sir Richard, is believed to continue to finance the business as the search for investment continues – and although the possibility of a government bailout has been put on hold, it could return as an option if the current plan fails.
Sir Richard, estimated to have a fortune of £ 4 billion, was unable to save the Australian branch of his airline from taking office earlier this week.
Branson, 69, had asked the British government for a loan of £ 500 million and had offered to mortgage Necker Island, his private retirement in the Caribbean valued at £ 80 million.
Virgin Australia, the country’s second largest airline, joined the voluntary administration after failing to secure a £ 710 million bailout from the authorities.
Sir Richard, 69, asked the British government for a £ 500m loan – and offered to mortgage Necker Island, his £ 80m private retirement in the Caribbean.
He pledged to “collect as much money as possible against the island to save as many jobs as possible” in order to persuade the authorities to help Virgin through “the devastating impact that this pandemic continues to have “
Despite Branson’s protests that Necker Island’s zero personal income tax rate has nothing to do with his decision to settle there, his billionaire tax exile status would be one of the reasons for which ministers are wary of bailing out the airline.
They know how toxic it would seem to give taxpayers’ money to – as a Whitehall official told The Mail – “well-trimmed beard magnates living on their own private island.”
Virgin Australia, the country’s second largest aviation company, joined voluntary administration after failing to get a £ 710 million bailout from authorities
Branson said in a note to staff that “our companies all pay taxes in the countries where they operate.”
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said, “Due to the significant costs to our business caused by unprecedented market conditions brought about by the Covid-19 crisis, we are exploring all options available to obtain additional external funding.
“Houlihan Lokey has been appointed to assist the process, focusing on financing the private sector.
“Meanwhile, we continue to take decisive action to cut costs, preserve cash and protect jobs.
“Discussions with a number of stakeholders are continuing and are constructive, while the airline remains in a stable position.
“Virgin Atlantic is committed to continuing to provide essential connectivity on competitive terms to consumers and businesses in Britain and beyond, once we emerge from this crisis.”
This comes after the Indian owner of Port Talbot-based Tata Steel approached the British government for a loan of £ 500 million.
Ready: Tata Steel’s large customers, such as automakers, have stopped production
The company is said to have applied for a business loan that would be repayable when demand for steel from its Wales sites recovers.
His request is currently under review by the Treasury and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Sky News reported. Talks are at an early stage and no agreement is expected to be announced soon.
The move comes after several major Tata Steel customers, such as automakers, stopped production.
A spokesperson said, “We continue to work with the British and Welsh governments to identify available support. “
The manufacturer has also been hit by rising raw material costs. China’s decision to reopen following the pandemic has contributed to the rise in iron prices despite a drop in global demand.
About 1,500 of the 8,000 British workers at Tata Steel have been put on leave.
In addition, British Steel, which belongs to Chinese Jingye, is expected to resume production at its Skinningrove factory on Teesside with 300 workers on leave who will return tomorrow.