Temasek interested in buying Virgin Atlantic stake: UK media

The leisure and air travel industries have been hit hard by Covid-19.

Sulaiman Daud | May 14, 2020, 04:43 PM

Temasek, an investment company owned by the government of Singapore, is reportedly among the list of interested investors for a large stake in British airline Virgin Atlantic.

Like other air carriers, Virgin has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bloomberg reported that it plans to shed 3,150 jobs, representing about a third of its current workforce.

It also intends to shut down its hub in London's Gatwick Airport.

Virgin's founder, Richard Branson, sought a government bailout of £500 million (S$867.4 million), but faced backlash from the public and politicians.

Private investors reportedly sought by Virgin Atlantic

According to the Daily Telegraph, Branson then turned to private investors after the request for a bailout was turned down.

Temasek is supposedly on a list of a "dozen or so" interested parties.

Others reportedly include Wall Street fund Apollo Global Management, Greybull Capital, Cerberus Capital Management, and Centerbridge Partners, a U.S. fund.

In response to a Deal Street Asia query, a Temasek representative said: "As a matter of policy, Temasek does not comment on market speculation and rumours."

Branson also intends to sell £405 million (S$701.7 million) worth of shares in Virgin Galactic, his space tourism company, to prop up the rest of his enterprises.

SIA previously bought and sold a stake in Virgin Atlantic

This is not the first time a Singapore company has been connected to a stake in Virgin Atlantic.

Back in 1999, Singapore Airlines (SIA) bought a 49 per cent stake in Virgin Atlantic for US$963.5 million in 1999 (US$1.48 billion or S$2.11 billion, adjusted for inflation).

Then in 2012, SIA sold its stake in Virgin Atlantic for US$360 million (US$402 million or S$571 million, adjusted for inflation).

SIA also owns a 20 per cent stake in Virgin Australia, the Brisbane-based air carrier, which went into administration after incomes fell sharply due to the effects of Covid-19.

Temasek currently owns about 55 per cent of SIA.

Top image from Pixabay.