Virgin Atlantic Airways is considering a public offering in London as the company gears up its business for recovery from the pandemic.
Executives have been holding discussions with bankers and potential investors, and could announce the company’s plans for an IPO as soon as the autumn, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.
The decision would mark the first time since it was founded in 1984 that the public gets the chance to buy shares in billionaire Richard Branson’s flagship carrier. Virgin Airways is currently majority-owned by Branson’s Virgin Group with the remaining 49% owned by Delta Air Lines.
The potential IPO was first reported by Sky News. A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic declined to comment.
The listing would come following a difficult 18 months for Virgin, when flights all but came to a standstill globally as the coronavirus pandemic hobbled air travel.
The company said in April it expects losses of more than €1 billion (A$1.88 billion) from the period but aims to be profitable again from 2022, having conducted a number of financing rounds and sold aircraft to ride out the crisis.
Chief Executive Officer Shai Weiss also said in April that Virgin Atlantic was expecting no significant drop in long-haul fares in key markets once travel resumes.
Branson’s Virgin will probably dilute its stake in the long-distance flight specialist, depending on the extent to which it takes part in an eventual IPO.
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