Bain considers Virgin stock market float


Virgin Australia owners Bain Capital are considering refloating the carrier on the Australian Securities Exchange following a swift post pandemic recovery.

Bain said it is running a ruler over a potential float but has not made a final decision yet.

Bain acquired Australia’s second biggest carrier from administrators for $3.5 billion in 2020.

The carrier has since returned to making a profit again and recently launched its return to long-haul international flying in December with a new route between Queensland and Tokyo.

“In the coming months we will consider how best to position Virgin Australia for continued growth and long-term prosperity,” Bain partner Mike Murphy told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Prior to Covid-19, Virgin Australia had a proud history as a public company. While there is currently no set timetable, at some point in the future, if any IPO does happen, Bain Capital would welcome public market investors joining us as shareholders in what is a great Australian company.”

Murphy said Bain would still continue to support Virgin irrespective of which way it goes.

“Bain Capital has made a long-term commitment to support Virgin Australia’s growth and sustainability,” he said.

“Bain Capital will ensure these preliminary deliberations are not a distraction for Virgin Australia management, who can remain 100 per cent focused on their roles.”

Rival carrier Qantas is also riding high in the ASX with its share price rebounding back to its pre-pandemic high of more than $6.50.

The stock crashed 64 per cent back in March 2020 but has since seen a huge rebound in travel led initially by domestic travel and now international.

Qantas is also expected to return to profit in the first half of this financial year.

Tom Walley, global managing director of Flight Centre Travel Group’s Corporate Traveller division, said the reopening of China’s border is also beginning to flow through to flight bookings.

“Looking at our internal data, we saw a tremendous spike in flight searches to China on the day it was announced that borders would reopen (27 December 2022) and since then, searches have been consistently more than 40 per cent higher than before Christmas,” he said.

“There’s no doubt the demand is there and we’re now starting to see that flow through into actual bookings – it’s early days and there will undoubtedly be some hesitancy around COVID numbers in China – but as we’ve seen throughout this pandemic, people are willing to travel in all circumstances.

“The next stage is for airlines to bring capacity back and we’re expecting this to ramp up in the first quarter with the likes of Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern all returning to our shores. This will likely put downward pressure on airfares to China, and beyond, later in the year.”