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Virgin Australia (ASX:VAH) - CEO, Paul Scurrah - The Market Herald
CEO, Paul Scurrah
Source: Daily Mercury
  • Virgin Australia's (VAH) final two bidders are pulling out all the stops to win over support from industry workers
  • Earlier this week, Cyrus Capital gained a significant lead with support from two major workers unions
  • The investor also made promises to retain staff and pay $450 million in workers entitlements
  • Competing investor, Bain Capital, has now reportedly thrown itself at airline unions to win similar support
  • Cyrus may still maintain the workers' vote, but Bain has also pitched for cheaper operational prices to executives that will help the airline compete once up and running
  • A final deliberation between the two bidders is expected on June 30

As the deadline inches closer for Virgin Australia (VAH) to pick a new owner, the final two contestants are attempting to win support of industry workers over.

Cyrus Capital, one of two bidders remaining from a total of 20, has seen an early vote of confidence from airline unions.

Last Wednesday saw the investment company gain endorsement from flight attendants and engineers — pushing them into a position of backing from the Virgin workforce.

Roughly one-third of Virgin's staff (about 3000) pushed their support of Cyrus Capital through the Flight Attendant's Association of Australia (FAAA).

FAAA Secretary Teri O'Toole likened Bain's interest in Virgin to "dipping its toes in the water".

Meanwhile, Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) Federal Secretary, Steve Purvinas, vocalised similar support.

"I sense a passion from Cyrus about the Virgin brand and a long-term commitment for the airline," he said.

"Cyrus knows the product better to a point where I'm confident their ownership would be the best for Virgin".

Voices from within ALAEA have also stated disinterest towards Bain over the involvement of ex-Jetstar Chief Executive, Jayne Hrdlicka. Earlier this month, Bain Capital expressed interest for Jayne to head the revitalised Virgin Australia.

ALAEA represents roughly 350 Virgin workers.

Cyrus Capital has also made significant promises to Virgin workers, including promises of retaining staff and $450 million in entitlements.

Now Bain Capital is doing what it can to combat that strong support. This week the competitor was reportedly 'locked in' with talks with a number of airline unions.

Apparently, these meetings have been successful enough for Bain to garner new support against Cyrus. This is reported from an alleged anonymous source from within the workers unions.

Although, some workers have alleged that Bain is pitching for lower operational costs to Virgin executives — a move which would help the newly operational airline compete against other mid-level services.

These apparent new developments do not detract from Cyrus' existing support from ALAEA and FAAA, however.

Likewise, Australian Council of Trade Unions President, Michele O'Neil, has asked Bain Capital to show the same level of worker support as Cyrus.

"It is now up to the other bidder, Bain, to do likewise and show Australian workers their bona fides when it comes to protecting the jobs and entitlements of people working in Australia," she said.

Both Bain and Cyrus have delivered legally binding expressions of interest to Virgin, and have received approval from the Foreign Investments Board.

A decision between the two bidders is expected to be made on June 30.


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