Virgin Group Said to Wind Down Buyout Unit, Cancel Fund

Billionaire Richard Branson
Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Group Ltd. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Virgin Group Ltd., the investment group owned by Richard Branson, is to wind down its private-equity unit after canceling plans to raise a new fund, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.

Virgin’s buyout-firm executives dropped plans to raise $200 million to buy energy assets in central and eastern Europe with Russia-based investment firm Rusnano Capital earlier this year following a lack of investor interest, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

The company raised $300 million for its first pool, the Virgin Green Fund, in 2009 with Virgin Group, led by billionaire Branson, 63, contributing about a third of the capital, two people said. Virgin charged a 2.25 percent annual management fee, according to company filings, as the fund invested in renewable energy and resource-efficiency industries in the U.S. and Europe including biofuel maker Gevo Inc. Executives are now focused on selling the remaining companies and returning capital to investors, the people said.

Officials at Virgin and Rusnano declined to comment.