Branson reinvests dividends to his brands to post covid ravaged funds

Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson has invested almost all the royalties he received from the Virgin brand back into the companies that use it for a second year running.

Accounts for the year to December 31 show Virgin Enterprises, which is responsible for the “management, protection and development” of the brand, paid a £30 million dividend to its UK parent group Virgin Holdings. Last year it was £25 million, down from the £85 million paid out in 2018.

This was to allow the group to invest in businesses including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Orbit, which provides launch services for small satellites, and Voyages, the cruise business. These were hard hit by Covid lockdowns.

Virgin Enterprises receives licensing income, which is typically a fixed percentage of turnover.

The biggest call on the funds is likely to have been the bailout for Virgin Atlantic of which Branson owns 51 per cent. In March last year it raised £160 million, made up of a £100 million loan from the Virgin Group and £60 million of deferrals from creditors.

At the time, a spokesman for the airline said: “This latest financing provides further resilience against a slower revenue recovery in 2021 and follows a $230 million (£165 million) financing on two Boeing 787s in January, which allowed us to pay down debt and strengthen our cash position.”

In 2020, Virgin Atlantic raised £1.2 billion, including £200 million from Branson. The airline also cut 4,300 jobs, nearly half its workforce, as flights around the world were grounded.

Profit before tax at Virgin Enterprises was £34 million, down £6 million from the previous year, which the business attributed to increased staff costs and management services fees.