Furore over Virgin Cruises
British billionaire Sir Richard Branson is being sued for allegedly stealing plans to build two luxury ships capable of carrying 4,200 people each.
Colin Veitch, former CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, is seeking more than $300m (£200m) in damages. He has filed the case in Miami federal court on behalf of his VSM Development Company.
According to the lawsuit, it was Veitch who told Branson that a conglomerate like Virgin could be a big player in the luxury cruise market.
Under the agreement, Veitch could have made a profit of up to $314m. Veitch claims that Virgin backtracked from the original agreement and changed terms so that Veitch would get nothing unless the ships were profitable.
Veitch, who headed Norwegian Cruise Line from 2000 to 2008, has requested the judge to stop Branson from launching Miami-based Virgin Cruises.
Virgin Cruises is being bankrolled by private equity firm Bain Capital and Tom McAlpine, who was a key member in launching Disney Cruise Line in 1996 and is spearheading the company.
Last week, Branson told the Daily Telegraph that building the ships would cost £1.1bn and they will be built in a German or Italian shipyard.
Virgin has dismissed Veitch’s claims.
A spokesperson said: “Richard Branson and the Virgin Group first looked at the cruise market in the late 1970s, and our current team has been exploring the opportunity for more than a decade.
“Over the years, we have been in discussions with a number of parties including the plaintiff, and those discussions ceased in 2012. We strongly believe the claim has no merits.”
Leave a Comment