Branson Admits Float of Virgin Blue `Very Likely`

This weekå‘s Sunday Telegraph quotes Sir Richard as saying å‘a Virgin Blue float is very likelyå’ while a news item in The Sunday Times reports that Goldman Sachs is advising him to do exactly that.

Richard Branson’s Australian low-cost, low-frills carrier is now worth an around £550m, the value of the airline improving following the collapse of the Ansett rescue deal last week. Virgin Blue was performing strongly before one of its two competitors dropped out of the Australian domestic market. It is expecting to make a £10m profit during 2001, its first year of operation, with a gain of £30m pencilled in for 2002.

Virgin Blue’s other rival in Australia, Qantas, has been similarly boosted by the troubles at Ansett. Qantas shares rose 10% to reach a two-year high when the collapse was announced, giving it a market cap greater than British Airway’s.