Billionaire Richard Branson thought he had lost it all during the pandemic

(LONDON) British billionaire Richard Branson said in an interview with the BBC on Thursday that he thought at the height of the pandemic he would lose everything and came under fire when his Virgin group asked for government help.

What we wanted was government support like what happened in America, as happened in France, as happened in Italy. not gifts […] But loans,” he insists.

Mr Branson tried to seek help from Boris Johnson’s Conservative CEO, who rejected his plea of ​​inadmissibility, likely believing that the businessman’s finances allowed him to save his company without appealing to taxpayers.

“We had 50, 60 that were all shut down, all the gyms closed, all the hotels closed,” Mr. Branson recalled. Editor’s note) found themselves on the street.

The billionaire, who says he personally lost around £1.5bn during the pandemic, has finally pumped £200m out of his own pocket to save Virgin Atlantic airline from bankruptcy.

“There was a moment when I thought we were going to lose everything,” he says. Mr Branson says he was “a little depressed” for a few months. “I’ve never experienced this,” he says.

“The personal money I earn, I give it all to charity,” he still reassures the businessman during an interview across the river, where he also said he regrets being “named a billionaire.” He points out, “People don’t address you by your net worth, they call you by your name.”

He insists, “All I can say is that we have paid billions and billions in taxes over the years and we will continue to do so and our companies will pay taxes regardless of country and territory.”

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Richard Branson experienced “one of the most extraordinary days” in 2021, floating at an altitude of 86 kilometers for a few minutes aboard VSS Unity, the ship of Virgin Galactic, his space tourism company.

But after a failure in January, Virgin Orbit, which designs rockets intended to launch small satellites, filed for bankruptcy last month in the US for the sale.

The 72-year-old businessman also told the BBC he was beginning to contemplate his succession: “We’re having serious family discussions” about it.

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