Coronavirus: Fund giants Greybull and Apollo circle Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is being circled by private equity (Getty)
Virgin Atlantic is being circled by private equity (Getty)

Private equity giants Greybull Capital and Apollo Global Management are understood to be circling Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic.

The funds are scheduled to open negotiations with the airline’s advisers Houlihan Lokey this week, according to a report in the Sunday Telegraph.

Richard Branson's airline, has faced financial troubles since the coronavirus outbreak and there are increasing fears the company could go bust.

Yesterday it was reported Virgin Atlantic had put administration adviser Alvarez & Marsal on standby in case it is unable to secure funding.

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At the start of the outbreak Branson had requested a government bailout but shelved these plans after a public backlash.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary said Branson – worth an estimated £3.8bn (£3.1bn) – should "bail himself out" while a petition was set-up calling him to be stripped of his knighthood.

He later posted a letter on Twitter saying he was prepared to put his private Caribbean island, Necker, up for collateral to save Virgin Atlantic.

But people were quick to point out that 49% of Necker island – worth around £80m – is owned by US airline Delta.

The tycoon is now on the hunt for private investment.

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The Telegraph reported that presentations to potential investors by Virgin Atlantic management, due to start last week, were delayed as Shai Weiss, its chief executive, focused on last Tuesday’s announcement to sack staff.

Greybull and Apollo join the likes of US fund Centerbridge Partners, Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Cerberus Capital Management on a list that has been whittled down to what insiders called “a dozen or so” interested parties.

Rivals IAG (IAG) and Ryanair (RYA) have also been struggling. IAG-owned British Airways has cut 12,000 jobs, while Ryanair also said it was ditching 3,000 roles.

Virgin Atlantic declined to comment.