Coronavirus: Hedge fund Elliott Management enters Virgin Atlantic bailout talks

Several investors are circling Virgin Atlantic as the airline attempts to secure emergency finance. Photo: BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Former Monarch airline owner Greybull Capital and hedge fund Elliott Management are the latest investors circling Virgin Atlantic as it seeks an emergency bailout.

Sir Richard Branson's airline has been racing to secure financing since the COVID-19 pandemic grounded its fleet.

The billionaire has been lobbying the UK government for public investment whilst also entering talks with private creditors.

Virgin Atlantic’s management, led by chief executive Shai Weiss, presented investment options to 12 interested parties at the start of last week.

Seriously interested parties include investment firm Apollo; private equity giant Greybull Capital, which previously owned failed airline Monarch; US companies Centerbridge and Cerberus; Germany’s Deutsche Bank; hedge fund Davidson Kempner; and now activist investor Elliott.

READ MORE: Fund giants Greybull and Apollo circle Virgin Atlantic

Founded by Paul Singer, Elliott has significant stakes in Twitter (TWTR) and French drinks giant Pernod Ricard (RI.PA) while also owning Italian football club AC Milan. It also purchased UK-based hotels and airlines payment firm Travelport in a £3.6bn ($4.4bn) deal.

Apollo could be interested in combining an interest in Virgin Atlantic with its £1bn ($1.2bn) stake in travel website Expedia.

Greybull has airline experience having bought a majority stake in Monarch in 2014. But the airline collapsed three years later at an estimated cost of £60m ($72m) to the taxpayer.

Elliott is believed to be the leading contender to save the airline alongside US investment rival Apollo, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

READ MORE: British Airways cabin crew pay slashed under grim new contract

Virgin Atlantic has been unable to access emergency coronavirus loans and a request for a £500m ($605m) UK taxpayer bailout was turned down last month.

To date it has made more than 3,000 redundancies, affecting a third of its workforce.

The government’s decision to impose a 14-day quarantine on travellers arriving into the UK is expected to delay the restart of flights until August at the earliest.