Virgin companies to invest $250 million to save jobs after virus outbreak: Branson

FILE PHOTO: Sir Richard Branson stands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange ahead of the start of trading in Virgin Galactic in New York, Oct. 28, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

(Reuters) – British entrepreneur Richard Branson said on Sunday companies in his Virgin empire will be investing $250 million in coming weeks and months to save jobs from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Because many of our businesses are in industries like travel, leisure and wellness, they are in a massive battle to survive and save jobs”, Branson wrote in a blog. He didn’t say if the $250 million just represented salaries of furloughed staff.

“Our airlines have had to ground almost all their planes; our cruise line has had to postpone its launch; our health clubs and hotels have had to close their doors and all bookings to our holiday company have stopped”, he added.

Virgin companies employ more than 70,000 people across 35 countries.

Branson had told Reuters late last month that the new Virgin cruise line would overcome coronavirus fears, but the outbreak has since spread to more places and has jolted markets and industries across the world.

Branson – one of Britain’s best-known businessmen who launched his career in the 1970s in records before expanding into airlines, banking, TV, healthclubs and space – described the crisis as the “most significant” during his lifetime.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by David Holmes

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