Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic is planning a London stock-market debut as it bets on pent-up demand for air travel, report says

richard branson
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.

  • Virgin Atlantic plans an IPO in London, with an announcement maybe coming this fall, Sky News reported.
  • The carrier wants to be able to raise money to take advantage of a post-pandemic rebound in travel.
  • The airline is majority-owned by Richard Branson, with Delta Air Lines holding a 49% stake.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Richard Branson’s airline Virgin Atlantic plans to list on the London Stock Exchange as it bets on a rebound in air travel, Sky News reported.

Airline executives have been in talks with financial institutions and potential investors, and the UK-based airline is likely to announce plans for an initial public offering as soon as the fall, the report on Saturday said, citing sources.

The IPO would be the first time the public has been able to buy shares in Richard Branson’s airline carrier since it was founded in 1984. It would also see the British billionaire give up control of the business.

Branson is the majority owner of Virgin Atlantic, with a 51% stake, and the remaining 49% stake is held by Delta Air Lines. Unless he takes up new equity through the IPO, Branson’s ownership would be diluted.

A stock-market listing would be a significant landmark for the airline, which struggled more than other carriers during COVID restrictions due to its reliance on UK-US routes.

The pandemic has brought several industries to a standstill, but air carriers have been among the hardest hit as governments clamped down on travel to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. A Virgin Atlantic presentation to investors is said to have focused on its strong potential to benefit from constrained consumer demand.

No potential valuation for Branson’s flagship airline was given in the report. Virgin Atlantic declined to comment.

Virgin Atlantic secured funding of $222 million earlier this year, a sign that the carrier is not in immediate need of a cash injection. Branson and other top executives want the listing to go ahead, as they want the airline to be open to further ways of raising money to take advantage of a post-pandemic rebound, Sky News reported.

Read More: Morningstar says investing in these 3 funds can give you valuable exposure to fintech firms across the globe as they evolve into the next big thing