DECEMBER 8, 2003: British tycoon Richard Branson sprays young girls with bubbly at Australian Stock Exchange as discount airline Virgin Blue is floated on ASX in Sydney, 08/12/03.
DECEMBER 8, 2003: British tycoon Richard Branson sprays young girls with bubbly at Australian Stock Exchange as discount airline Virgin Blue is floated on ASX in Sydney, 08/12/03.

Virgin bidder wants to make flying fun again

VIRGIN Australia bidder Bain Capital says it wants to make "flying fun again".

The private equity firm confirmed on Sunday that it would lodge a second-round proposal to become the owner and operator of Virgin Australia.

"We want to bring back the best parts of the Virgin Blue culture and make flying fun again," Bain Capital managing director Mike Murphy said yesterday.

"We will be a reliable partner for staff. Without them, there is no airline.

"And we have the strongest capital base of any of the bidders. We know aviation isn't going to return to normal any time soon, but Bain Capital is here for the long haul with deep funding to navigate these difficult times."

 

Virgin Group founder Richard Branson sprays young girls with bubbly at the ASX float of Virgin Blue in December 2003.
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson sprays young girls with bubbly at the ASX float of Virgin Blue in December 2003.

 

The Brisbane-based airline was considered a cheeky upstart when it began flying in 2000 under the Virgin Blue banner. It changed its name to Virgin Australia in 2011 and last month called in voluntary administrators Deloitte with debts totalling almost $7 billion.

Deloitte has given the four short-listed bidders until this Friday to submit second round proposals. The administrators will then choose two bidders who have a June 12 deadline to make their final, binding offers.

Private equity firms Bain and BGH are considered the frontrunners in the battle.

The state government-backed Queensland Investment Corporation is understood to still be keen to join one of the bidding groups.

QIC said last week it was still having "meaningful discussions" with all four bidders.

A Bain spokesman would not comment on whether it would keep the airline based in Brisbane if its bid is successful.

Mr Murphy said Bain had the "depth of experience" to help steer Virgin Australia through the current turbulence.

"Australia can have a safe, financially strong airline which serves the interests of all Australians and meets the needs of the hundreds of thousands of Australians who work in the tourism industry," he said.

 

 

"We will be a committed partner for Virgin Australia with a proven track record. Under our ownership, Virgin Australia will have a sustainable, long-term future.

"We have the strength to rebuild an airline which Australians can be confident in - an airline which will meet their needs. It will be an airline for all Australians, with Australian management and staff, funded by significant Australian money, and Bain Capital, which has been investing in Australia for more than 20 years."

 

Originally published as Virgin bidder wants to make flying fun again



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