Sir Richard Branson is widely believed to be the seventh richest person in Britain, richer than the Queen of England, and the 286th richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg. His personal fortune is estimated to be worth $5.84 billion.
That may not be rich enough to save Virgin Atlantic, however.
Branson's famed airline, founded in 1984, is on the ropes as a result of coronavirus. As Britain's The Guardian reports today, Branson has asked the UK government to provide him with a £500 million bailout (about $621 million) "to save his Virgin Atlantic airline from going bust."
In a blog post published this morning, Branson laments that "this is the most challenging time we have ever faced ... [in] the five decades I have been in business" as Virgin Atlantic reels under "a devastating impact [from] this pandemic."
As Branson explains in his post, despite his sizable net worth, his cash is "not sitting as cash in a bank account ready to withdraw," but rather tied up in the value of his several companies. Accordingly he is asking the British government to extend Virgin Atlantic a "commercial loan" of about $620 million. Branson is promising to put up his privately owned Necker Island (in the British Virgin Islands) as collateral, along with "other Virgin assets" as security for any loans he might receive.
Sir Richard Branson owns 51% of Virgin Atlantic. U.S. air giant Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) owns the remaining 49%.
His first request for a government bailout was rejected by the British government, prompting this present offer of collateral with a renewed plea "to keep the airline going" and maintain "real competition for British Airways, which must remain fierce for the benefit of our wonderful customers and the public at large."