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Richard Branson

Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson, sometimes abbreviated as SRB for "Sir Richard Branson" (born 18 July 1950, Shamley Green, Surrey), is a British entrepreneur, best known for his Virgin brand, a banner that encompasses a variety of business organizations. It is estimated that Branson is worth over 3 billion (equivalent to more than US$5 billion) according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2006. On the 21st of September, 2006, he agreed to donate $3 billion over 10 years to fight global warming.

Business exploits
Branson formed Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1984, launched Virgin Mobile in 1999, Virgin Blue in Australia in 2000, and later failed in a 2000 bid to handle the National Lottery.

In 1997, Branson took what many saw as being one of his riskier business exploits by entering into the railway business. Virgin Trains won the franchises for the former Intercity West Coast and Cross-Country sectors of British Rail. Launched with the usual Branson fanfare with promises of new high-tech tilting trains and enhanced levels of service, Virgin Trains soon ran into problems with the aging rolling stock and crumbling infrastructure it had inherited from BR. The company's reputation was almost irreversibly damaged in the late 1990s as it struggled to make trains reliably run on time while it awaited the modernization of the West Coast Main Line, and the arrival of new rolling stock.

Virgin has acquired European short-haul airline Euro Belgian Airlines, renaming it Virgin Express. It also started a national airline based in Nigeria, called Virgin Nigeria. Another airline, Virgin America, is set to launch out of San Francisco International Airport in 2007. Branson has also developed a Virgin Cola brand, but is now retreating only to the UK market, and even a Virgin Vodka brand, which has not been an overly successful enterprise. As a consequence of these lackluster performers and perceived obscure accounting practices, the satirical British fortnightly magazine, Private Eye, has been critical of Branson and his companies

After the so-called campaign of "dirty tricks" (see expanded reference in Virgin Atlantic Airways), Branson sued rival airline British Airways for libel in 1992. John King, then-chairman of British Airways, countersued Branson, and the case went to trial in 1993. British Airways, faced with likely defeat, settled the case, giving 500,000 to Branson and a further 110,000 to his airline and had to pay legal fees of up to 3 million. Branson divided his compensation (the so-called "BA bonus") among his staff.

On September 25, 2004 he announced the signing of a deal under which a new space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, will license the technology behind Spaceship One to take paying passengers into suborbital space. The group plans to make flights available to the public by late 2007 with tickets priced at $200,000. The deal was mostly financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and the modern American space engineer & visionary, Burt Rutan.

Branson's next venture with the Virgin group is Virgin Fuel, which is set to exploit the recent spike in fuel costs by offering a revolutionary, cheaper fuel for automobiles and also aircraft (in the near future).

Branson has been tagged as a 'transformational leader' by management lexicon, with his maverick strategies and his stress on the Virgin Group as an organization driven on informality and information, one that's bottom heavy rather than strangled by top-level management.

He was 9th in the Sunday Times Rich List 2006, worth just over 3billion.

He is the No 1 Admired Businessman in Britain, and 2nd choice amongst youth for Prime Minister (after Tony Blair)

On September 21st 2006 Branson pledged to donate the profits of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains to research environmentally friendly fuels. The donation is estimated to be worth $3 billion.

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