Branson never lost it as a publicist or deal maker
Published 07/02/2013 | 04:00
THE Punt has always had a soft spot for Richard Branson. It is a sort of guilty pleasure.
The man is clearly something of a chancer with an ego to boot but he is full of zest and still knows a good deal when he sees one.
A photo-shoot of the bearded billionaire's Caribbean hideaway in 'Hello!' magazine last month included hot tubs, tennis stars John McEnroe and Novak Djokovic, blondes and boy-band heart-throbs.
Later the same month, Branson posted a picture of himself on Twitter with Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, actress Kate Winslet and singer Natalie Imbruglia.
It was classic Branson – boastful but also fun. Unlike many businessmen who develop a taste for the good life, Branson never seems to have lost his ability to make money as well as headlines.
That's why the Punt cheered following the news that Branson is set to top up his bank account with another $316m following the agreed takeover of Virgin Media by John Malone's Liberty Global for $16bn.
Like all good generals, Branson spreads the cash around. The head of Virgin Media since 2008, Neil Berkett, is set to net around $85m under the deal.
Virgin Media is not a big deal this side of the Irish Sea but it is Britain's second largest private media company after Sky and the new company is set to give Rupert Murdoch a run for his money.
That's always a good thing at a time when television seems to become more boring by the day.