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Branson’s Virgin Atlantic plots listing on LSE

Branson and Virgin website

Flying high: Sir Richard Branson considering IPO

Sir Richard Branson is planning to bring his Virgin Atlantic airline to the stock market in a bid to repair its Covid-battered finances. 

A possible listing on the London Stock Exchange would almost certainly see the founder relinquish overall control of the business. 

However, it would ease pressure on the balance sheet after it came close to collapse during the pandemic.

Administrators were put on standby last May amid requests for help from the taxpayer, and Sir Richard came in for some criticism from those who said billionaires should be capable of supporting their own ventures.

Virgin Atlantic has since raised around £1.5 billion through three rounds of refinancing, including support from Virgin Group.

The airline’s management, led by chief executive Shai Weiss, has pitched a sale of company shares to City investors in recent weeks, according to Sky News.

It could float on the exchange as soon as the autumn if the plan is successful. Investment banks Barclays and Citi have been hired to advise the board. 

Virgin Atlantic is hoping for a rebound in international travel, particularly on its lucrative route between New York and London. 

Flights to the US accounted for more than half its £2.9billion revenues in 2019 and 70% of its network. 

Sir Richard launched Virgin Atlantic in 1984 and his Virgin Group owns 51% with US airline Delta Air Lines owning the remainder.

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