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Monday, 29 April, 2002, 07:21 GMT 08:21 UK
Branson 'to quit some Virgin companies'
Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson: Was "misunderstood" by the City
Sir Richard Branson is poised to take Virgin firms on to the stock market, step down as their chairman and curb some entrepreneurial activities, a report said.

The change could see Sir Richard, the UK's best known entrepreneur, reduce to 30% his stake in Virgin Atlantic, the Financial Times said.

Sir Richard only last autumn said he would not dilute his 51% stake in the carrier, co-owned with Singapore Airlines.

Sir Richard would also slow the rate of start-ups added to his Virgin empire, which spans markets from music to mortgages.

And he would float at least eight Virgin firms within the next eight years, raising perhaps £2bn, the FT added.

Strategy shift

The flotation¿s would mark a further reversal of Sir Richard's scepticism with the City, which saw him in the mid-1980s buy back Virgin Group after only two years as a listed firm.

Sir Richard complained he was misunderstood in the City.

Airline Virgin Express, listed in Brussels, is currently the only public company within the Virgin empire.

Sir Richard two weeks ago revealed that Australian budget airline Virgin Blue could gain a stock market flotation within two years.

See also:

15 Apr 02 | Business
Branson mulls Virgin Blue float
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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