British airline company Virgin Atlantic could open its doors to investors for the first time almost 40 years after it was founded in a much-anticipated IPO. Sir Richard Branson’s debt-laden airline could potentially float on the London Stock Exchange.
According to sources, Virgin Atlantic is expected to finally make a profit in 2023, after it almost collapsed in 2020 during the Covid global travel bans.
|Number of employees||6,733|
|Revenue 2021||$928 million|
|Stock Exchange||London Stock Exchange|
Source: Global Data
Virgin Atlantic is currently majority owned by Virgin Group with the remaining 49% held by Delta Air Lines Inc. It was founded in 1984 by global entrepreneur and billionaire Richard Branson, who became the airline’s “personality” by successfully using his popularity and media connections. Branson’s mantra “Screw It, Let’s Do It” is also the title for his best-selling book, where he shares the secrets of his professional success.
After taking a sustained Covid hit, Virgin Atlantic is expected to return from pandemic recovery to profitability in 2023. In 2021, Virgin Atlantic reported total revenue of £928 million, up £60m in 2020, yet down from £2.9 billion in 2019.
In September 2022, Virgin Atlantic made headlines, by changing its gender identity and uniform policy to make it “the most inclusive airline in the sky”. Virgin Group has also embraced a hybrid work culture for its employees.
Overall, Virgin Group companies have more than 70,000 employees working in 25 countries. The companies include Virgin Voyages, Virgin Balloon Flights, Virgin Bet, Virgin Books, and more.
In 2014, Richard Branson launched Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial space line. Three years later, Branson invested more than $1 billion to launch Virgin Orbit, his second space venture that provides launch services for small satellites. In 2021, Virgin Orbit went public through a SPAC merger with NextGen Acquisition Corp and is now a publicly traded company. Its value, however, plummeted following the failure of its inaugural mission in Cornwall in January 2023.
The Virgin Brand used to own Virgin Records, which Branson sold in 1992 for 1 billion dollars.
A Virgin Atlantic IPO would be a historic moment, that will see Branson surrender his position as 51% shareholder. The airline still needs to remain 51% under European control to retain many of its landing rights.
The IPO could also be an opportunity for a well-needed cash injection by new shareholders. Virgin Atlantic is expected to seek a listing on the London Stock Exchange for an estimated £160 million, with City and Barclays banks appointed to lead the listing. However, as many listings have shrunk, the IPO valuation could also be lower.
An Initial Public Offering (IPO) is an investor’s first chance to gain exposure to an organisation. An IPO is an important milestone for a company looking to raise capital and an opportunity for investors to get involved in a hopefully growing business.
With Axi you can get exposure to Virgin Atlantic IPO as soon as it’s listed on a specific exchange and prices from the exchange become available to our liquidity providers.
Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, Sky News
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