British billionaire Richard Branson said at the Business is an Adventure conference in Johannesburg on Thursday morning that he would look at buying a stake in struggling national carrier South African Airways (SAA).
Branson owns airline Virgin Atlantic, as well as space tourism venture Virgin Galactic. He explained that he was usually inclined to explore all options as captain of the Virgin ship.
“I have great difficulty in life saying no. I’m known as Dr Yes at Virgin, so if we were approached by the SA government, we’d definitely have a look,” he said.
“Whether it made sense for Virgin Atlantic to do something, then we’d obviously have to see,” he added.
Richard Branson expressed faith in the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“I feel more confident investing my money in South Africa with him (President Cyril Ramaphosa) than with the previous [leader].”
Business is an Adventure was hosted by Branson in partnership with Investec and Virgin Atlantic.
It was announced in July that Branson’s Virgin Galactic would merge with a New York-listed company to become the world’s first publicly-traded space tourism venture.
“By embarking on this new chapter, at this advanced point in Virgin Galactic’s development, we can open space to more investors and in doing so, open space to thousands of new astronauts,” Branson said in a statement at the time.
VG and public-investment vehicle Social Capital Hedosophia will merge, with SCH expected to own up to 49% of the combined company, the statement said.
“Upon closing of the transaction, which is expected in the second half of 2019, VG will be introduced as the first and only publicly traded commercial human spaceflight company,” it added.
(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)