Sir Richard Branson seems far more interested than his Australian co-owner in an initial public offering (IPO) for Virgin Blue, the Australian discount airline.

Patrick Corporation, an Australian transport conglomerate, bought half of Virgin Blue from Branson's Virgin Group last March. Branson is pushing for a Virgin Blue IPO in the first half of 2003, partly to help fund other Virgin initiatives. But Patrick is reluctant, being more interested in increasing the value of its stake, as demonstrated by its recent acquisition of Brisbane-based Jet Care, Virgin Blue's line maintenance provider.

Branson would like both of Virgin Blue's owners to offer 10% of their shares for a total IPO of around A$260 million ($146 million), but Patrick says it is only willing to sell 5%.

Virgin Group has the right each year to call for a flotation, but Virgin Blue's chief executive Brett Godfrey expects the owners to find a consensus.

Source: Airline Business