RICHARD BRANSON HAS SAID he will never sell all his shares in Virgin Atlantic, referring to the airline as his "beautiful 27-year-old".
"Virgin Atlantic is my baby, he said. "I've seen her grow up alongside my daughter and I'll still be involved until I drop.
Speculation about the future of Virgin Atlantic has been rife since the airline announced in November 2010 that it had appointed Deutsche Bank to assess its position in the market place following the start of the British Airways/American Airlines/Iberia joint venture. However, speaking in Miami last month during celebrations for Virgin's 25th anniversary of flights between the US city and London, Branson said the BA/AA/Iberia tie-up had "played into our hands, adding that "big businesses seem to want to be sure that there is competition.
A number of large companies are opting to fly with Virgin to "make sure that BA and AA don't remain dominant, said Branson, "so our worst fears, fortunately, have not come about.
On the future ownership of Virgin, the airline's founder said he expects Singapore Airlines to sell shares rather than himself.
"If there was a fantastic alliance on the table and it made sense to water down some of my shares, then I'd certainly consider it, but it's not my preference, said Branson. "It's likely that I'd be the largest shareholder whatever.
Deutsche Bank's review is ongoing.