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Last Updated: Friday, 12 November, 2004, 13:00 GMT
Virgin 'seeking Indian airline'
Virgin Blue planes
Virgin has expanded its airline interests overseas in recent years
Virgin Group is holding talks with Indian airlines about the possibility of taking a 49% stake in some carriers.

British billionaire Richard Branson said his company was "planning to do a lot in India", but did not specify which airlines it was speaking to.

India's Air Deccan said in August it had held exploratory talks with Virgin Blue, Virgin's Australian subsidiary.

In addition to its majority stake in Virgin Atlantic, Virgin also has shares in Belgian and Nigerian carriers.

It is also setting up a no-frills airline in the US.

Government limit

"Virgin Group are in discussions with a number of domestic airlines about taking 49% stakes in airlines," said Mr Branson.

He added that Virgin Group was also in talks with other Indian companies about non-airline business ventures.

The talks with Air Deccan were abandoned in the summer because of the Indian government's current 40% limit on foreign ownership in Indian airlines.

Virgin Atlantic is 51% owned by the Virgin Group, and 49% by Singapore Airlines.


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