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Richard Branson

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Person.png Sir Richard Branson  Rdf-icon.png
Richard Branson.jpg
BornRichard Charles Nicholas Branson
Member ofGlobal Commission on Drug Policy

Sir Richard Branson (born 18 July 1950) is an English business magnate, investor and philanthropist.[1]

He founded the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies.[2]

In February 2018, Sir Richard Branson asked:

“Are you ready to say goodbye to orangutans? Then it’s time we act to demand an end to the use of unsustainable palm oil in the products we buy.”[3]

Young entrepreneur

Branson expressed his desire to become an entrepreneur at a young age. His first business venture, at the age of 16, was a magazine called Student.[4] In 1970, he set up a mail-order record business. He opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records — later known as Virgin Megastores — in 1972.

Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he set up Virgin Atlantic airline and expanded the Virgin Records music label.


In March 2000, Branson was knighted at Buckingham Palace for "services to entrepreneurship".[5] For his work in retail, music and transport (with interests in land, air, sea and space travel), his taste for adventure, and for his humanitarian work, he became a prominent figure.[6][7]

In 2002, he was named in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.[8]

In 2004, he founded spaceflight corporation Virgin Galactic, noted for the SpaceShipOne project.


In November 2017, Forbes listed Branson's estimated net worth at $5.1 billion.[9]

Tax exile

In 1971, Branson was convicted and briefly jailed for tax evasion, having fraudulently obtained export documents for records to be sold on the domestic market in order to avoid paying Value Added Tax. [10][11] Customs officials caught onto the scheme and executed a sting operation, marking records bought for the international market with invisible ink and subsequently buying them on the domestic market. Branson was advised of the sting by an anonymous tip-off and attempted to dispose of the evidence, but this was unsuccessful.[12][13]

Branson's business empire is owned by a complicated series of offshore trusts and companies.[14] The Sunday Times stated that his wealth is calculated at £3 billion; if he were to retire to his Caribbean island and liquidate all of this, he would pay relatively little in tax.[15] Branson has been criticised for his business strategy, and has been accused of being a carpetbagger.[16][17][18][19] Branson responded that he is living on Necker for health rather than tax reasons.[20]

In 2013, Branson described himself as a "tax exile", having saved millions in tax by surrendering his British citizenship.[21]

This was echoed by Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Labour's John McDonnell, in 2016, amid calls for his knighthood to be revoked.[22]


  1. "RICHARD CHARLES NICHOLAS BRANSON - Company Director Check"
  2. "London's 1000 most influential people 2010: Tycoons & Retailers". Evening Standard. London. 26 November 2010. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2011.

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  4. "Back to the future for Richard Branson's retro 80s speedboat"
  5. "Virgin tycoon is knighted". BBC. 3 January 2016.

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  6. Barling, Julian. The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Behavior: Volume Two: Macro Approaches. SAGE. p. 383.

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  7. "Thirty of the very best of British". The Telegraph. 13 November 2016.

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  8. "100 great British heroes". BBC News. Retrieved 21 March 2014
  9. "Richard Branson". Forbes. Retrieved 30 January 2016.

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  14. Document:Tiny Rowland – portrait of the bastard as a rebel
  15. Watson, Roland. "The Sunday Times: Britain". The Times. London. Retrieved 1 January 2007.

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  16. Chakrabortty, Aditya (21 November 2011). "Is Richard Branson all he's cracked up to be?". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 April 2013.

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    Branson's reply is here [1].
  17. Aditya Chakrabortty (24 June 2013). "Don't be fooled by Richard Branson's defence of Virgin trains". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2013.

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    Branson's response is here [2].
  18. Aditya Chakrabortty (10 June 2013). "The truth about Richard Branson's Virgin Rail profits". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 June 2013.

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  19. James Salmon (14 October 2012). "Branson eyes RBS bargain: After £1.65bn deal collapses, tycoon could bid just £650m for 316 branches". Retrieved 20 July 2013.

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  20. Garside, Juliette (13 October 2013). "Richard Branson denies being a tax exile". Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 16 October 2013.

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  21. "I’ve been a tax exile for seven years, says Branson"
  22. "‘Tax exile’ Richard Branson facing calls for his knighthood to be scrapped"
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