(Reuters) – Private equity firm Bain Capital LLC has agreed to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to become a major shareholder in Virgin Cruises, the cruise ship division being set up by British entrepreneur Richard Branson, according to Sky News.
Branson’s Virgin Group would itself be investing more than $100 million in the cruise venture, recycling funds from this month’s flotations of Virgin Money in London and low-cost airline Virgin America on Nasdaq, according to the report.
Bankers have told Sky News that the venture would raise about 500 million pounds ($784.25 million) in equity and a debt package that could be as much as 1 billion pounds.
A spokesperson for Bain Capital said it does not comment on deal speculation. Virgin Group also declined to comment.
Earlier this year Branson confirmed that Virgin would set up its own cruise ship division, having been quoted in an Abu Dhabi newspaper as saying he was seeking investors for a $1.7 billion project.
Virgin Cruises, which is expected to be targeting its maiden voyage in 2019, will be based out of Miami in the United States, the Sky report said.
The investment comes at a time when the cruise market is predicted to grow between 8 and 10 percent annually until 2018 and is attracting other new investors.