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Virgin becoming a two-horse race as Brookfield tries to muscle back in

Business

The shortlist of Virgin Australia bidders is expected to be reduced as early as today, but not before Brookfield tries to muscle its way back into the game with reports it will throw $500 million into the airline to recapitalise it.

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Brookfield walked away from the process last month because of concerns related to the short term funding of Virgin.

The shortlist will be narrowed down to two early this week and it’s not certain it will be allowed back after non-binding indicative bids were confirmed by the other four bidders on Friday.

Brookfield was linked with the government-backed Queensland Investment Corporation and its attempt to join the process in order to keep Virgin in Brisbane.

Lead administrator and Deloitte Restructuring Services partner Vaughan Strawbridge said the dollar value for the company would not be known until June when binding offers were scheduled. Until then it was all speculation.

But the competitive tension of having four, or possibly five if Brookfield is allowed to return, showed that all the parties had a genuine interest in the failed company and saw real value in the business, despite the uncertainty about when travel restrictions will be lifted.

“They are a strong group of well-funded parties and they are also parties with significant aviation experience,” Strawbridge said.

“All have done an enormous amount of work to get to this point, and the level of engagement with each has been strong.

“Since we short-listed groups two weeks ago, we have gone through an intense program of management briefings and stakeholder meetings to position the bidders for the proposals received today. Just this week, for example, we will have held close to 100 meetings with bidders and stakeholder groups, including unions and governments.”

He said the shortlist would be narrowed to two early this week.

“This next phase, which will include further engagement with stakeholders and aircraft financiers as they seek agreements on future terms ahead of binding bids being received, will be just as intense and defined by an ongoing focus to deliver the best possible commercial outcome for creditors, and see Virgin Australia restructured and out of administration as a strong and sustainable airline.”

The four in the current shortlist are Bain Capital, Cyrus Capital, Indigo and BGH.

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