Sir Richard Branson cedes control of Virgin Atlantic, sells 31 pct stake to Air France, puts Delta in command

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Published: July 28, 2017 11:30:14 PM

Sir Richard Branson has ended his reign over Virgin Atlantic, a British Airline founded by him in 1984.

Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic, British Airline, Air france,Airline industry,Business,Sir Richard Branson,Mergers and acquisitions,Air FranceSir Richard Branson has ended his reign over Virgin Atlantic, a British Airline founded by him in 1984. (Image: Reuters)

Sir Richard Branson has ended his reign over Virgin Atlantic, a British Airline founded by him in 1984. On Friday, the 67-year-old entrepreneur, probably the most famous face in the modern aviation industry, announced that he is selling 31 per cent of his shares to Air France, which also owns KLM of the Netherlands, relinquishing his controlling interest in the airline, reported The Guardian. With this deal, Branson will net £220 mn. However, he retains a 20 per cent interest, leaving the US giant Delta as the largest shareholder in the airline with 49 per cent, said the report. He will remain as chairman of the airline.

Talking about the deal, Sir Richard said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to extend our network and create a stronger customer champion, as well as being extremely beneficial to our people and the Virgin Atlantic brand that our customers love dearly.” According to the reports, Virgin Atlantic is expected to retain its independence as a UK airline and will continue to fly under the Virgin brand. Sharing this with airline’s staff in a statement, Branson called it an exciting day for the airline.

He further told them that he would still remain as the largest individual shareholder and added that his new partners are all agreed that the brand should survive. The journey of Virgin Atlantic started by Branson by chartering and selling seats on his first plane when a flight was cancelled in the Caribbean. Later, it turned into an exciting, glamorous upstart that tried to break the grip of British Airways on UK aviation.

In a letter to staff, he noted that the airline had been operating for half his lifetime and with this alliance, he wants to be certain that all the necessary building blocks are in place for Virgin Atlantic to continue to prosper and grow for the next 50 years.

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