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An overview of the virgin company in great britain and the role of richard branson

Share via Email Richard Branson's Virgin investment group comprises about 400 operations. Branson's finances are difficult to penetrate because of their complexity and opaqueness, with few of his large companies wholly owned by Branson himself.

In return, as the licence holder of the Virgin brand, he receives annual or triennial fees that can amount to hundreds of millions over time. By forging partnerships with cash-rich allies, Branson has established new businesses without depleting the group's reserves and spending little to establish new ventures in sectors such as mobile telecoms.

He is not a numbers or a details man and leaves the everyday running of his firms to a group of lieutenants. He went into business in 1966 after leaving school at 16, publishing The Student magazine from the basement of a rented flat.

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He rapidly expanded into the world of pop music, starting a mail-order business that sent records through the post to tens of thousands of teenagers, and set up Virgin Records, a chain of shops, with the first one opening off London's Oxford Street in 1971. Two years later he launched the Virgin Records label after clinching the rights to Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells and attracted a growing roster of artists that included the Sex Pistols, Genesis, and the Rolling Stones.

In 1984, Branson diversified, leasing his first 747 to fly to New York from Gatwick, giving birth to upstart airline Virgin Atlantic, which was soon competing with British Airways at Heathrow.

BA's so-called "dirty tricks" campaign against Virgin rocked the industry in the early 90s: BA argued that Branson's protests against it were a publicity stunt. Branson sued BA for libel. BA settled out of court when its lawyers discovered the lengths to which the company went to try to kill off Virgin, and was forced to pay substantial damages.

The formation of Virgin Media is a classic Branson business venture: He is not on the Virgin Media board and the company is run by chief executive Neil Berkett.

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Branson has also had his fair share of flops. He has never been a friend of the City. The relationship soured in the late 1980s when he listed his Virgin music business on the stock market, and the share price bombed.

  • In the private equity world, such financial arrangements are not unusual before an investment is exited;
  • But its income is made up of a share of dividends and cash flows from those investments, including service on the debt it lends down the network of holdings, the proceeds of refinancings, sales or listings and the revenue stream from licensing the Virgin name;
  • But its income is made up of a share of dividends and cash flows from those investments, including service on the debt it lends down the network of holdings, the proceeds of refinancings, sales or listings and the revenue stream from licensing the Virgin name;
  • In return, as the licence holder of the Virgin brand, he receives annual or triennial fees that can amount to hundreds of millions over time;
  • A man who often appears shy, yet has built a brand around his charisma;
  • There is nothing illegal about Virgin Group Holdings using cash or its stakes in other Virgin companies to support other branded businesses.

An outraged Branson took the company private, buying out institutional shareholders who he claimed did not understand the business. Virgin Trains was launched in 1997 and Branson has ridden out a period when passenger complaints soared.

Branson doesn't sit on the board of any of the companies within the Virgin group — underpinning his claim to be an entrepreneur rather than a businessman in the conventional sense.