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Published on Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Sir Richard does u-turn on Virgin Atlantic share sale

Sir Richard Branson has abandoned his plan to sell the majority of his stake in Virgin Atlantic to Air France-KLM.

In a blog post, Branson said he intended to hold on to his 51% share in the airline, which he founded 35 years ago.

The billionaire businessman had announced in 2017 that he would sell 31% of his shareholding to Air France-KLM as part of a £220 million deal, leaving him and his family with just 20%.

The sale was part of a plan to forge a three-way partnership between Virgin, US carrier Delta - which owns 49% of the airline - and Air France-KLM. The deal received approval from US regulators last month.

In his blog, Branson wrote: "To get the deal done, we initially thought our family would need to reduce its shareholding in Virgin Atlantic. I was willing to do so, reluctantly, to guarantee the long-term success of Virgin Atlantic."

However, he said that subject to contract, he had agreed with Delta and Air France-KLM that he and his family would retain their 51% share of Virgin Atlantic.

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