Over recent weeks, billionaire Sir Richard Branson has been on the receiving end of negative press in relation to his request to the British government for a £500 million (US$625 million) bailout to stop Virgin Atlantic going bust. Many feel he should use part of his estimated £4.7 billion (US$5.88 billion) personal fortune instead. Branson has lived on his private island, Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, for the last 14 years.
In his defense, Branson, who holds a 51% stake in the carrier he founded back in 1984 (Delta Air Lines holds the remaining 49%), made it clear that the funds being sought were on the basis of a commercial business loan that would have to be repaid and that he was not looking for a ‘hand out’. Having been turned down by the government, who advised him to exhaust all other possible avenues for fundraising, Branson on Monday, April 20, promised to “raise as much money against the island as possible to save as many jobs as possible.”
Referring to what he called the “devastating impact this pandemic continues to have”, Branson said in a public blogpost that: “The reality of this unprecedented crisis is that many airlines around the world need government support and many have already received it. We will do everything we can to keep the airline going – but we will need government support to achieve that in the face of the severe uncertainty surrounding travel today and not knowing how long the planes will be grounded for.”
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