The Independent reported on 9 Aug 2009 that Sir Richard Branson is set to defy the downturn by completing the $400m (£240m) fundraising for his energy venture in renewables within two months. The Virgin Green Fund, based in London and San Francisco, will be one of the few private-equity style funds to raise its target amount this year when it reaches its final close in September 2009.
The fund ploughs $5m-$100m into growing renewable energy sectors such as biomass and solar power in the US and western Europe. Mr Branson is believed to have put $100m into the fund, with the remainder coming from institutional investors. The fund is seeking returns of up to 30 per cent.
The private equity adviser MVision is raising the fund, which is run by an 11-strong team. These include partners Evan Lovell, Shai Weiss, and Anup Jacob, who co-founded the fund.
According to Real Business, Branson has already had his fingers burned with coconut oil and ethanol (there aren’t enough coconuts in the world to produce Virgin’s oil quota and ethanol freezes at 15,000 ft), but the entrepreneur is very excited about his latest discovery. He tells The Times: “It is wonderful,” he said. “It doesn’t absorb water, so you can pump it in the same way as petrol. And you can make it from anything. Sugar is good. What if all the sugar now turned into soft drinks were, instead, turned into clean fuel?”