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Virgin Blue raises A$133.1m from institutional investors

Virgin Blue has successfully completed the A$133.1 million ($110 million) institutional component of a fund raising plan that it announced on Monday.

The Australian carrier says in a stock exchange filing that it raised A$21 million by issuing 105.2 million shares through an institutional placement, and an institutional entitlement offer raised $112.1 million by issuing 560.4 million shares at A$0.20 each.

These were "well oversubscribed with strong demand from new and existing Australian and international institutional investors. Participation by existing shareholders was very strong with approximately 96% of shares taken up by these investors," says the airline.

Virgin Blue will move to the retail offer, which consists of 491.5 million new shares and is expected to raise a further A$98.3 million, next.

On Monday, it said that it planned to raise A$231.4 million in fresh equity amid a projection that it made its first annual loss in the last fiscal year. It added that CEO Brett Godfrey, who co-founded the airline 10 years ago with Richard Branson, would leave in 2010.

"The operating environment over the last 12 months has been the most challenging in the airline's history," Virgin Blue said on Monday. "The strengthening of Virgin Blue's capital position combined with the current strategic initiatives will position the business to weather the current market environment."

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