Connect with us

Billionaires

Billionaire Branson Asks For Government Money To Save Virgin Atlantic, Claims He ‘Did Not Leave Britain For Tax Reasons’

Published

on

Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has responded to criticism over Virgin’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. In an open letter to “the Virgin family” Branson thanks his 70,000 staff and addresses “comments” on his “net worth” and the need for government money to support the businesses they work for.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic Branson has faced scrutiny after an early decision to ask Virgin airline staff to take eight weeks’ unpaid leave.  

The move was met with a barrage of criticism, Richard Fuller the Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire since 2019 slammed Branson in Parliament, claiming that Branson should use his net worth to pay the unpaid leave and that it could be covered by the “interest on your wealth” claimed by Fuller at the time to be $3.8 billion, “for eight weeks.”

As Forbes pointed out at the time, Mr Fuller’s estimation of Branson’s net worth assumes the £3.8 billion is a cash asset that can gain interest sitting in a bank account. Branson’s net worth is compiled from a network of public and private investments. His current cash pile sits at £520 million ($600 million).

Branson responded to this in his letter: “I’ve seen lots of comments about my net worth–but that is calculated on the value of Virgin businesses around the world before this crisis, not sitting as cash in a bank account ready to withdraw. Over the years significant profits have never been taken out of the Virgin Group, instead they have been reinvested in building businesses that create value and opportunities. The challenge right now is that there is no money coming in and lots going out.”

Last month, Branson moved to protect the futures of his 70,000 employees announcing a $250 million rescue package. A spokesperson for Branson confirmed that the $250 million would come from “Richard and Virgin group” and would not be paid by Virgin Atlantic.

Tax Trouble

On claims that Branson does not pay U.K. income and capital gains tax on his investment success, Branson uses the letter to address, “comments about my home.” Adding, “Joan and I did not leave Britain for tax reasons but for our love of the beautiful British Virgin Islands and in particular Necker Island, which I bought when I was 29 years old, as an uninhabited island on the edges of the BVI. Over time, we built our family home here. The rest of the island is run as a business, which employs 175 people. As with other Virgin assets, our team will raise as much money against the island as possible to save as many jobs as possible around the Group.”

Government Money

Branson also gives the clearest indication yet that Virgin Atlantic desperately needs government money to survive this pandemic warning that “hundreds of thousands more jobs will be lost” across the sector.

He adds, “we will do everything we can to keep the airline going–but we will need government support to achieve that in the face of the severe uncertainty surrounding travel today and not knowing how long the planes will be grounded for.

“This would be in the form of a commercial loan–it wouldn’t be free money and the airline would pay it back.

“The reality of this unprecedented crisis is that many airlines around the world need government support and many have already received it. Without it there won’t be any competition left and hundreds of thousands more jobs will be lost, along with critical connectivity and huge economic value. Virgin Atlantic started with one plane 36 years ago. Over those years it has created real competition for British Airways, which must remain fierce for the benefit of our wonderful customers and the public at large.”

Last week Virgin Atlantic was told by the U.K. government to resubmit its proposal for a £500m coronavirus bailout package.

The Financial Times reported that the UK government was left unimpressed with its initial bid which included a $622 million (£500m) package of commercial loans and guarantees.

A government official told the FT that the Treasury was “unimpressed by the initial bid.”

David Dawkins, Forbes Staff, Billionaires

Billionaires

Tesla Vehicles Could Soon Become Completely Autonomous As Self-Driving Tech ‘Very Close’, Elon Musk Says

Published

on

By

Tesla vehicles could soon be completely autonomous as CEO Elon Musk said the electric vehicle firm is “very close” to achieving level 5 autonomous driving technology, during a virtual appearance at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai.

KEY FACTS

  • “I’m extremely confident that level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen and I think will happen very quickly,” Musk said.
  • He added that he is confident “basic functionality” for level 5 complete autonomy will be achieved this year.
  • The technology will allow vehicles to drive on roads without driver input.
  • Tesla, the world’s highest-valued carmaker after overtaking Toyota last week, already operates an Autopilot system that uses external cameras, radars and sensors, but it is driver assisted and does not make the vehicle autonomous.

KEY BACKGROUND

Tech firms, including Uber and Alphabet-owned Waymo, have pumped billions into developing self-driving cars, a futuristic idea that many had predicted would be ready by this year. But limitations around AI have stalled development of the technology. Last month, Waymo and Volvo announced they were teaming up to develop driverless cars for ride-hailing use.

TANGENT

In February, the National Transportation Safety Board found Tesla’s autopilot driver assistance was likely to blame for a fatal 2018 crash in California, leading to the board calling for more regulation of the technology, and for the company to better educate drivers on its limitations.

ADDITIONAL INFO

The road to completely autonomous driving has five levels: Level 0 describes no automation i.e. everyday cars. Level 1 represents features such as adaptive cruise control, while level 2 describes partial automation features that control speed and steering, such as those seen in Tesla vehicles. Level 3 and 4 represent limited driverless capabilities. Level 5 is the point at which a driverless vehicle can navigate all road conditions without human input, according to True Car.

Continue Reading

Billionaires

Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian Endorse Kanye West Running For President

Published

on

By

After years of hints, Kanye West formally announced he is running for president this year in a challenge to Trump, who he once supported, and Democratic rival Joe Biden, winning support from his friend and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

KEY FACTS

  • Rounding off his Fourth of July, West tweeted on Saturday night: “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION.”
  • Musk tweeted in response: “You have my full support!”
  • Wife Kim Kardashian also publicly pledged her support, retweeting West’s statement and adding a U.S. flag emoji.
  • West’s announcement follows years of hints that he would run for office this year which he later postponed to 2024, after publicly declaring at a Fast Company event in 2019: “When I run for president in 2024…We would create so many jobs! I’m not going to run, I’m going to walk.”
  • But the rapper, who recently inked a 10-year deal with Gap through his Yeezy brand, is reportedly yet to file any paperwork to get on state election ballots, while he has missed the deadline for states including Texas, New York, and Indiana.
  • It is not known how serious West’s intentions are this time around, however, he still has time to file as an independent candidate across most states, according to Ballotpedia.
  • West’s declaration was met with skepticism on social media, while some commentators pointed out that it could work out in Trump’s favour.

KEY BACKGROUND

West’s declaration suggests the rapper is looking to cement political ambitions he has expressed throughout Trump’s presidency. West previously forged alliances with Trump, and was pictured in the Oval Office in 2018 wearing a signature Trump ‘Make America Great Again’ cap. He once called the president his “brother” and previously hit back at criticism towards his support for Trump, likening the backlash to racial discrimination. Although he says he didn’t vote in 2016, West later said he “would have voted for Trump”, and earlier this year doubled down, suggesting he would vote for him in November. But that could very well change given Saturday’s announcement.

American rapper and producer Kanye West embraces real estate developer and US President Donald Trump in the White House’s Oval Office, Washington DC, October 11, 2018. West wears a red baseball cap that reads ‘Make America Great Again,’ Trump’s campaign slogan. (Photo by Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)

TANGENT

West and Musk were pictured together on July 1st, with West tweeting: “When you go to your boys [sic] house and you’re both wearing orange.”

Isabel Togoh, Forbes Staff, Business

Continue Reading

Billionaires

Quote Of The Day

Published

on

We have grown past the stage of fairy-tale. As women, we have one common front and that is to succeed. We have to take the bull by the horn and make the change happen by ourselves.

– Folorunso Alakija, Billionaire Businesswoman

Continue Reading

Trending