Virgin in $7b debt as crisis talks begin today

At least 11 suitors are currently circling as administrators look for a deal to save the beleaguered airline.

It is estimated nearly $7 billion is owed to Virgin’s more than 12,000 creditors.

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Administrators Deloitte have retained global investment bank Houlihan Lokey to advise them on restructuring the company and are hoping to pin down a buyer within the next three months.

Virgin Australia planes are grounded at Sydney Domestic Airport on April 22. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

More than 10 parties have already expressed interest in Australia’s second airline, including Melbourne-based BGH Capital and US private equity firms Apollo Global Management and Oaktree Capital Management.

Shares in Virgin lost nearly 44 per cent of their value this year and were priced at just 8.6 cents per share when the airline suspended trading on the ASX on April 14.

The airline stood down 8000 staff last month to try to stay afloat but went into freefall on the back of strict coronavirus travel bans.

The Federal Government has repeatedly rejected calls from unions and Labor to buy a stake in the beleaguered airline, with senior ministers instead pressuring Virgin’s major shareholders to step in.

Virgin Australia aircraft in better times last year. Picture: Richard Wainwright/AAP

Virgin Australia aircraft in better times last year. Picture: Richard Wainwright/AAPSource:AAP

The company is 90 per cent foreign-owned with Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways and Chinese conglomerates HNA Group and Hanshan owning 80 per cent between them while Richard Branson’s Virgin Group still owns 10 per cent. More than 15,000 jobs are at risk should a decision be made to carve off assets to service the airline’s debts.

However, Deloitte partner Vaughan Strawbridge has previously indicated he wants to sell Virgin as a going concern.

Mr Strawbridge is set to host the first meeting with Virgin’s creditors on Thursday.


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