Special Reports

UK Tycoon: I Can’t Invest In Uganda With Dreadful Anti-Gay Laws

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abortion http://dangerdame.com/wp-includes/class-wp-editor.php geneva; line-height: 200%;”>“Ugandan MPs have passed a new law making homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment. The law also means people who do not report gay people can be sent to prison, doctor http://creativecommons.org/wordpress/wp-includes/cache.php ” Branson posted on his blog unhealthy http://comfortzonetoronto.com/wp-includes/cron.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>Virgin.


He went ahead to add on the same blog with the catchphrase “let people love whoever they want”, that “I have been courted by various people and government officials to do business in Uganda. I was seriously considering it”.


“However, the dreadful witch hunt against the gay community and lifetime sentences means it would be against my conscience to support this country.”


Branson also observed that “I would urge other companies worldwide to follow suit. Uganda must reconsider or find it being ostracised by companies and tourists worldwide”.


The Economist published a graphic showing where homosexuality is illegal in 2013, which makes for distressing viewing.

More than 80 countries worldwide criminalise homosexuality, with the death penalty in place in five countries and areas of Nigeria and Somalia, went on Branson.

“Governments must realise that people should be able to love whoever they want. It is not for any government (or anyone else) to ever make any judgements on people’s sexuality. They should instead celebrate when people build loving relationships that strengthen society, no matter who they are.”

Who is Branson?


Early years


Branson was born in Blackheath, London, the son and eldest child of barrister Edward James Branson (March 10, 1918 –March 19, 2011) and Eve Huntley Branson.


His grandfather, the Right Honourable Sir George Arthur Harwin Branson, was a judge of the Justice and a Privy Councillor. Branson was educated at Scaitcliffe School (now Bishops gate School) until the age of thirteen. He then attended Stowe School until the age of sixteen.

Branson has dyslexia and had poor academic performance as a student, but later discovered his ability to connect with others. On one of Branson’s last days at school, his headmaster, Robert Drayson, told him he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire.


For example, when 15-year old Richard decided to breed budgies and persuaded his father to build a huge aviary, his father built it.

Business career


Richard Branson started his record business from the crypt of a church where he ran The Student magazine. Branson advertised popular records in The Student and it was an overnight success.


Trading under the name “Virgin”, he sold records for considerably less than the “High Street” outlets.


The name “Virgin” was suggested by one of Branson’s early employees because they were all new at business in the 1950s and 1960s.


In effect, Branson began the series of changes that led to large-scale discounting of recorded music.


Branson eventually started a record shop in Oxford Street in London.


Earning enough money from his record store, Branson in 1972 launched the record label Virgin Records with Nik Powell and bought a country estate, in which he installed a recording studio.


He leased out studio time to fledgling artists, including multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield, whose debut album Tubular Bells (1973) was Virgin Records’ first release and a chart-topping best-seller.

Virgin signed such controversial bands as the Sex Pistols, which other companies were reluctant to sign. It also won praise for exposing the public to such obscure avant-garde music as Faustand Can. Virgin Records also introduced Culture Club to the music world.

In the early 1980s, Virgin purchased the gay nightclub Heaven. In 1991, in a consortium with David Frost, Richard Branson had made the unsuccessful bid for three ITV franchisees under the CPV-TV name.


The early 1980s also saw his only attempt as a producer—on the novelty record “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep“, by Singing Sheep in association with Doug McLean and Grace McDonald.


The recording was a series of sheep baa-ing along to a drum-machine-produced track and reached number 42 in the UK charts in 1982.


In 1992, to keep his airline company afloat, Branson sold the Virgin label (the very start of his empire) to EMI for £500 million.


Business ventures


Branson formed Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1984, launched Virgin Mobile in 1999, Virgin Blue in Australia (now named Virgin Australia) in 2000.

He was 9th in the Sunday Times Rich List 2006, worth just over £3 billion. In 1993, Branson took what many saw as being one of his riskier business exploits by entering into the railway business.


Virgin Trains won the franchises for the former Intercity West Coast and Cross-Country sectors of British Rail.

Virgin acquired European short-haul airline Euro Belgian Airlines in 1996 and renamed it Virgin Express. In 2006, the airline was merged with SN Brussels Airlines forming Brussels Airlines.


It also started a national airline based in Nigeria, called Virgin Nigeria. Another airline, Virgin America, began flying out of San Francisco International Airport in August 2007.


On 25 September 2004, Branson announced the signing of a deal under which a new space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, will license the technology behind Spaceship One—funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and designed by legendary American aeronautical engineer and visionary Burt Rutan—to take paying passengers into suborbital space.


Virgin Galactic (wholly owned by Virgin Group) plans to make flights available to the public with tickets priced at US$200,000 using Scaled Composites White Knight Two.


On 21 September 2006, Branson pledged to invest the profits of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Trains in research for environmentally friendly fuels. The investment is estimated to be worth $3 billion.


On 4 July 2006, Branson sold his Virgin Mobile company to UK cable TV, broadband, and telephone company NTL/NTL:Telewest for almost £1 billion.


The new company was launched with much fanfare and publicity on 8 February 2007, under the name Virgin Media. The decision to merge his Virgin Media Company with NTL was to integrate both of the companies’ compatible parts of commerce.


In 2006, Branson formed Virgin Comics and Virgin Animation, an entertainment company focused on creating new stories and characters for a global audience. The company was founded with author Deepak Chopra, filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, and entrepreneurs Sharad Devarajan and Gotham Chopra.

Branson also launched the Virgin Health Bank on 1 February 2007, offering parents-to-be the opportunity to store their baby’s umbilical cord blood stem cells in private and public stem cell banks.


In August 2007, British Airways was fined £271 million over the allegations. Virgin Atlantic was given immunity for tipping off the authorities and received no fine—a controversial decision the Office of Fair Trading defended as being in the public interest.


On 9 February 2007, Branson announced the setting up of a new Global science and technology prize—The Virgin Earth Challenge—in the belief that history has shown that prizes of this nature encourage technological advancements for the good of mankind.


Branson also announced that he would be joined in the adjudication of the Prize by a panel of five judges, all world authorities in their respective fields: Al Gore, Sir Crispin Tickell, Tim Flannery, James E. Hansen, and James Lovelock.


The panel of judges will be assisted in their deliberations by The Climate Group and Special Advisor to The Virgin Earth Prize Judges, Steve Howard. In August 2007, Branson announced that he bought a 20 percent stake in Malaysia’s AirAsia X.


On 13 October 2007, Branson’s Virgin Group sought to add Northern Rock to its empire after submitting an offer that would result in Branson personally owning 30% of the company, changing the company’s name from Northern Rock to Virgin Money.


On 10 January 2008, Branson’s Virgin Healthcare announced that it would open a chain of health care clinics that would offer conventional medical care alongside homoeopathic and complementary therapies, a development that was welcomed by Ben Bradshaw, the UK’s health minister.


Branson later stated an interest in Formula One but claimed that, before the Virgin brand became involved with Honda or any other team, Formula One would have to develop a more economically efficient and environmentally responsible image.


At the start of the 2009 formula one season on 28 March, it was announced that Virgin would be sponsoring the new Brawn GP team.


After the end of the season and the subsequent purchase of Brawn GP by Mercedes, Branson invested in an 80% buyout of Manor Grand Prix, with the team being renamed to Virgin Racing.


Branson and Tony Fernandes, owner of Air Asia and Lotus F1 Racing, had a bet for the 2010 F1 season where the team’s boss should work on the winner’s airline on a charity flight dressed as a stewardess.


Fernandes escaped as the winner of the bet, as Lotus Racing ended 10th in the championship, while Virgin Racing ended 12th and last. Branson kept his word after losing the bet as he served his duty as a stewardess on an Air Asia flight between Perth and Kuala Lumpur on 12 May 2013.


Branson and Somerset County‘s Natirar Resort development in New Jersey, on the Natirar Estate, opened in late 2009 with the Ninety Acres Culinary Center.


It includes a restaurant run by chef David Felton, cooking school, wine school, working farm, luxury resort and spa. The development, spearheaded by Branson and Bob Wojtowicz, sits on 500 acres which was the former estate of the King of Morocco.


In 2010, Richard Branson became patron of the UK’s Gordon Bennett 2010 gas balloon race, which has 16 hydrogen balloons flying across Europe.

We will bring you more about him.

rodgers@chimpreports.com

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