The Virgin Cruises dream is one step closer to coming to fruition today after securing huge financial backing from private equity group, Bain Capital. Not content with Virgin Trains, Virgin Airlines and Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson has pledged to take his brand to the seas with Virgin Cruises’ maiden voyage planned for 2019.
Bain Capital are set to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the endeavour to become a major shareholder in Virgin Cruises. This is despite the ill-fated test flight for the Virgin Galactic space tourism venture which ended with the shuttle breaking apart and the pilot suffering fatal injuries.
The Virgin Group itself has pledged £63m towards the project, recycling funds from the flotation of Virgin Money on the London stock market and the flotation of Virgin America on the New York stock market.
Private equity sources have reported to Sky News that a number of other shareholders have been sourced by Branson including a Middle East sovereign wealth fund as well as a selection of private business and high net worth individuals.
Limited details have been released about Virgin Cruises, but it is believed that Branson is hoping to target the family audience and will base the first ship in Miami. Branson revealed that one of his ambitions for the project was to “see whether we can attract people like myself who’ve never been on a cruise shop.”
The cruise line is expected to be headquartered in the US and two vessels for Virgin Cruises are currently in the process of being commissioned.
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