Bain and Branson-linked Cyrus picked as final two bidders for Virgin Australia

Virgin owed nearly A$7 billion (S$6.69 billion) to creditors when it entered voluntary administration in April.
Virgin owed nearly A$7 billion (S$6.69 billion) to creditors when it entered voluntary administration in April.PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Virgin Australia Holdings' administrator said on Tuesday (June 2) it had selected private equity giant Bain Capital and Richard Branson-linked Cyrus Capital Partners as the final bidders for the country's second-biggest airline.

Administrator Deloitte said they had been selected from five non-binding proposals received on Friday. It is seeking a binding agreement with the winning bidder by June 30.

The others that had lodged proposals included BGH Capital, Indigo Partners and Brookfield Asset Management, Reuters had previously reported.

Virgin owed nearly A$7 billion (S$6.69 billion) to creditors when it entered voluntary administration in April with its long-running financial struggles exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. The airline is 20 per cent-owned by Singapore Airlines (SIA).

The next phase for the parties on the final shortlist will include further engagement with stakeholders and aircraft financiers as they seek agreements on future terms before binding bids are received, Deloitte has said.

The strong interest in Virgin at a time when the world aviation market is largely grounded shows the long-time attractiveness of the Australian domestic market, a duopoly between Qantas Airways and Virgin.

Bain, which owns Trans Maldivian Airways, is being advised on its Virgin offer by Jayne Hrdlicka, the former head of Qantas budget airline Jetstar.

Cyrus was an investor in Virgin America alongside Virgin Group founder Richard Branson before its sale to Alaska Airlines. Cyrus also invested in collapsed British carrier Flybe with Virgin Atlantic.

Mr Branson owned 10 per cent of Virgin Australia when it collapsed along with other major shareholders SIA, Etihad Airways and Chinese groups HNA and Nanshan.