Sir Richard Branson is unapologetic about moving a key part of his Virgin empire out of Britain to Geneva for tax reasons. The announcement is a symbolic blow for the Chancellor, George Osborne, who had hoped to lure more companies back to Britain through cuts in corporation tax.
Virgin Enterprise, which owns the trademarks and rights to use the Virgin name, is advertising for staff for its move to Switzerland. A Virgin spokesman said: "This move will accelerate our expansion and the development of the Virgin brand internationally. Companies trading internationally need every leg up that they can get these days."
The Virgin Group, whose interests include trains, planes and broadband delivery to financial services, will remain based in Britain.
Sir Richard's intention to bid for the nationalised bank Northern Rock and 600 branches of Lloyds, through Virgin Money, was a sign of the company's continued commitment to the UK, the spokesman said. Sir Richard (61) will not become a tax exile.