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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 06:25 GMT 07:25 UK
Branson mulls Virgin Blue float
Virgin Blue
Budget airline Virgin Blue aims for a 50% market share
The Australian budget airline, Virgin Blue, could be listed on the stock market within two years, its founder and part owner, Sir Richard Branson, has revealed.

"Eighteen months ago, Virgin Blue didn't exist. Now we have 1,500 people working for us and we've 15% of the market and it is growing extremely rapidly," Sir Richard said.

Virgin Blue had high hopes of boosting its market share to 50% in the wake of the collapse of Ansett, the Air New Zealand subsidiary.

Ansett's bankruptcy made Virgin Blue the second biggest airline after international carrier Qantas.

Sir Richard, who recently sold half the airline to one of Australia's biggest cargo operators, suggested the cash from the sale would help fund a float on the Australian Stock Exchange.

The cargo operator, Patrick Corporation, paid 260m Australian dollars (96m; $139) for the 50% stake.

See also:

12 Mar 02 | Business
Branson beefs up Virgin Blue
04 Mar 02 | Business
Ansett shuts up shop
19 Nov 01 | Business
Branson mulls Virgin Blue sale
18 Oct 01 | Business
Virgin sheds Our Price stores
16 May 01 | Business
Branson raises trans-Tasman stakes
01 May 01 | Business
Airlines clash down under
31 Aug 00 | Business
Virgin Blue takes off down under
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