Sir Richard Branson has seen his fortune shrink by more than 40% in a year after revealing his Virgin empire suffered big losses during the pandemic.
The British entrepreneur slipped down the annual Sunday Times Rich List following his satellite launch company, Virgin Orbit, going bankrupt.
Sir Richard’s wealth has dropped by £1.79 billion since last year, the list revealed.
It marks a bigger decline in his net worth than the tycoon indicated during an interview with the BBC earlier this month.
He told the BBC’s Amol Rajan that the pandemic “cost us a big percentage of our net worth, maybe £1.5 billion.
“There was a time where it really looked like we were going to lose everything”, he said.
The Sunday Times said last year that Sir Richard and his family were worth about £4.2 billion, placing him 44th on the list.
The businessman, who resides on a private island in the Caribbean, featured 77th on the list this year with a net worth of £2.41 billion.
Virgin Group, which includes airline Virgin Atlantic, gym group Virgin Active and bank Virgin Money, suffered a hit when Covid struck in early 2020.
Sir Richard faced criticism when he asked for a commercial loan from the Government at the height of the virus in a bid to keep his airline afloat.
He insisted he did not have billions in “cash in a bank account ready to withdraw” to save the business and tens of thousands of staff.
Virgin Atlantic eventually secured a £1.2 billion bailout involving only private funds, including £200 million from the wider Virgin Group.
The troubles continued for his empire with Virgin Orbit filing for bankruptcy earlier this month and axing 675 jobs – about 85% of its workforce.
It came after a rocket failed to complete the first satellite launch from UK soil in January.
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