BVI News

Branson offers Necker Island as collateral for £500M loan bailout from UK gov’t

By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff

British billionaire and founder of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson has revealed plans to put Necker Island up as collateral to secure a £500 million loan bailout from the United Kingdom government.

Sir Branson made the announcement on his Virgin Atlantic website on Monday April 20, after the UK Treasury rejected the initial loan request from Branson’s airline, Virgin Atlantic.

Necker, which is an outer island of the BVI that Branson purchased back in 1979 is luxury staycation destination which employs 175 persons.

“As with other Virgin assets, our team will raise as much money against the island as possible to save as many jobs as possible around the group,” Sir Branson said.

According to international media reports, Virgin Atlantic’s request for the £500 million loan was first rejected after the UK Treasury concluded that the airline had not exhausted all other options to raise monies before seeking state aid.

Virgin Atlantic, as with many other companies in the world, have been impacted severely by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Backlash faced

Following the request, Sir Branson received heavy criticism and questions on whether he qualified for a UK government bailout considering his £4.7 billion net-worth. Branson was also accused of not paying taxes in the UK for over 14 years since moving to the BVI.

“I’ve seen lots of comments about my net worth – but that is calculated on the value of Virgin businesses around the world before this crisis; not sitting as cash in a bank account ready to withdraw,” Sir Branson stated.

He continued: “Over the years significant profits have never been taken out of the Virgin Group, instead they have been reinvested in building businesses that create value and opportunities. The challenge right now is that there is no money coming in and lots going out.”

Not a handout, help needed

Sir Branson said it is critical to receive the bailout loan from the UK government to keep his airline going in these uncertain times.

“The reality of this unprecedented crisis is that many airlines around the world need government support and many have already received it. Without it there won’t be any competition left and hundreds of thousands more jobs will be lost, along with critical connectivity and huge economic value,” he said.

He added: “This would be in the form of a commercial loan – it wouldn’t be free money and the airline would pay it back (as easyJet will do for the £600m loan the government recently gave them).”

Most challenging time in over 5 decades

In late March, the business tycoon had committed $250 million to his Virgin Group of companies to help their businesses and protect the loss of jobs.

In over 50 years of business, Branson described this current period as “the most challenging time” his companies have ever faced.

“It is hard to find the words to convey what a devastating impact this pandemic continues to have on so many communities, businesses and people around the world. From a business perspective, the damage to many is unprecedented and the length of the disruption remains worryingly unknown,” he stated.

According to Branson, more than 70,000 persons across 35 countries are employed with the Virgin Group of companies and include sectors heavily impacted by COVID-19, including aviation, leisure, hotels and cruises.

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

38 Comments

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  1. Wondering says:

    How bookings are going for his new cruise ship he has just launched ?

    Like 10
    Dislike 6
  2. Scenario says:

    Raise 500m pounds of UK taxpayer money against an island asset not worth that. Once Virgin Atlantic stocks start to rise, sell all the assets and pay back the loan.

    The corporate raiders then pick Virgin Atlantic to pieces and the employees are left holding the bag. Sir R denies any involvement and retires to Necker with a lot of cash to invest in space tourism.

    Like 11
    Dislike 5
  3. Drago says:

    Virgin Atlantic Group seeking 500 mil bail out.

    Bronson: I employ 175 people blah blah.

    Everybody else feelings about Virgin Atlantic Group: IF IT DIES IT DIES *shrugs*

    Like 13
    Dislike 5
    • @drago says:

      First off, Virgin Atlantic is part of the Virgin Group. If Virgin Atlantic were to go under it is 10s of thousands of jobs lost. Those people would not be shrugging. ALL airlines are massively struggling at the moment. The German government has given TUI a multi-billion euro bailout. So try to understand the problem rather than just hating.

      Like 15
      Dislike 7
      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly the man has his virgin staff that lost their job working to help the corona problem… paid out of his money…So his company looses money and he still has to spend out of his pockets to pay people thats doing a service thats not even paying him

    • Jim says:

      Certainly you could not relate to the news clip,but just could not read without coment…..

  4. Inside! says:

    Sir Richard,

    You are one of the first to do something like this. Your actions are what other more fortunate persons Who have more liquidity should follow.

    I commend your deed, it is ground breaking and worthy of much appreciation.

    What a caring man you really are!

    UNPRECEDENTED KUDOS

    Like 8
    Dislike 18
  5. imho says:

    I am against all bailouts.
    Was against Obama bailing out banks.
    Against Trump bailing out anyone this year.
    Basically against government intervention on private businesses. Govt role should only be helping the public services and national defense.
    A loan however makes sense, especially with collateral.

    Like 13
    Dislike 3
    • @imho says:

      iMho, I am also against bailouts in principle. Loans and bailouts are different as you allude to.
      Where I strongly disagree is your approach to government intervention on private businesses. Throughout history businesses have shown themselves to be self-interested and motivated primarily by profit (cruise ships anyone?). It is only through regulation and legislation that businesses will behave, and that IS the role of the government.

    • Gigo says:

      Branson is British. We are British. We need to take care of our own right now. Nobody cares what happens in foreign countries like the US.

      Like 2
      Dislike 2
      • @Gigo says:

        Don’t agree with your logic, that man knows very little about the BVI or its people. He is a British ‘investor’. The Governor has participated in community events and tries to understand our people, but this gentleman is a real-estate investor, with his own agenda. We have to stop selling out the BVI.

  6. WOW says:

    You see now who was behind that UK loan guarantee that they wanted BVI to sign? I am now a FAHIE fan.

    Like 7
    Dislike 30
  7. Read says:

    Read the article before blogging $hit

    Like 12
  8. Real talk says:

    That for his company Virgin Atlantic,not the bvi read or listen to bbc

  9. VG says:

    So you couldn’t put something else up for collateral? You choose to put up ONE OF MY DAMN ISLANDS?

    I am disappointed! I want a job though 😉

    Like 1
    Dislike 11
  10. suck it up branson says:

    all of those so-called billionaires milk the system to their advantage

    This pandemic is really exposing them all

    however, in the end, no lessons will be learned by the masses…

    sad…
    sad…
    sad…

    Like 9
    Dislike 4
  11. We are the BVI says:

    Interesting that Branson has not paid tax in the UK for the past 14 years. Funny! He has not paid any tax for his subdivided properties at Mosquito either. The island is listed as a BVI company, and the buyers for the 8 lots he sold receive shares in that company when they buy (so there is no BVI transfer tax). AND what ever happened to that public restaurant that was supposed to open on Mosquito??? Sir Branson had promised the island would not be 100% private in order to make the purchase back in 2007 (remember Drakes Restaurant). Definitely give this guy a handout!

    Like 13
    • voiceofthevoiceless says:

      Yes Branson could allegedly evade tax while they put an extra 7% on the low to middle income earners. That is whatI call Rob da Hood economics.

      What if Branson defaults on the loan does that mean that the UK now has ownership of Necker Island? Hmmm.

    • Actually says:

      That’s untrue. Branson has paid tax in the UK. So have his companies.

      Like 3
      Dislike 3
  12. @TherealDonald says:

    Good PR attempt. But he knows the reality is that it is going to be hard to put up the island as collateral any time soon. They would need to go through the non-belonger landholder licence process.

    It would likely be easier to put up one of the other islands as collateral, not one of the ones in the BVI. Maybe go for the one in Noosa, Aus?

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  13. Rich get richer says:

    And yet he is one of the persons pushing for BVI adopt a public register…I’m not sorry for him.

    Like 1
    Dislike 1
  14. The Nation says:

    And none of his commercial planes fly to the BVI…time for this to change

    Like 7
    Dislike 3
  15. Wow says:

    Dir Richard I always admire your move,and way of thinking.until you start the cruse ship line.cruz ship= mega polution.now time to go back to ecologie.

  16. Marketplace says:

    Why bother with a loan and collateral. Just put Necker Island up for sale and take the best offer that comes along. Surely there are some wealthy BV islanders that would pay a few million dollars for your lovely island.

    Like 4
    Dislike 4
    • Nah says:

      Donate them back to the people of the Virgin Islands. Afterall, all of those so called investors took dispicable advantge of so many land owning families and government of the day, and literally took/stole their lands for a few pence.

      Like 5
      Dislike 2
    • Pebble says:

      No BVIslander has that kind of money. They would need a loan from a foreign bank and nobody would be crazy enough to do that..

      Like 2
      Dislike 1
      • if YT says:

        If YT can get it on a sweetheart discount, so can a local. How was it possible for him only paying a $100,000 on a 3 million island?

        • Incante says:

          If someone pays 100k for and island that means it is a 100k island, not a 3M island. Simple really.

          Like 3
          Dislike 1
          • yeah simple? says:

            so my broke ass can go buy land that is on the market for 5 million with just 500 dollars? since it’s that simple. Y’all don’t feel good unless YT in Power taking the lion share.

          • @Incante says:

            Add 2020 land value price per acre, and the value on any property built on the estate etc. and yes, you are correct. BVIslanders can be shareholders to the estate.

  17. The More you Live says:

    Well if people like him looking for bailout and loan guarantee the working class in the BVI going under this time. God forbid! Prayer changes things.

    BVI its time to unite and form co-ops to save ourselves. Put aside the ‘me, myself and I’ mentally and be our brothers’ keeper.

    Like 4
    Dislike 1
  18. Boris Becker says:

    I don’t really understand why he would bother. VIRGIN Atlantic is a failing business anyway. He would be better walking away and concentrating on his awesome tennis tournament. I’m definitely up for next year!

    Auf Wiedersehen

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