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Branson confirms Virgin Atlantic speculation

Branson confirms Virgin Atlantic speculation

Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson has confirmed the airline is seeking a merger partner, ending months of speculation.

Earlier this year Branson appointed Deutsche Bank AG to assess options for the 51 per cent stake his Virgin Group holds in the airline.

Singapore Airlines holds the remaining share of the airline.

While it is now likely Branson will sell down his share, he will remained involved.

“I will certainly still be extremely involved in the airline, whatever we decide to do, and I will still be a major shareholder,” Branson said in an interview with Bloomberg.

“We are in discussions with various people and will see what comes out of it,” he added.

Virgin Atlantic has seen a growing need to merge with a rival or join an airline alliance to survive in the increasingly competitive world of aviation.

The growth of cross-border super carriers has played a major role. For example, the partnership of American Airlines and British Airways on profitable transatlantic routes has hit Virgin.

At present Virgin Atlantic has 288 takeoff and landing slots at Heathrow.

This represents three per cent of the total and would allow any potential buyer to add flights to US and Asian business markets.