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Virgin Voyages gets $550m capital boost, taps new CEO, delays Brilliant Lady

Nirmal Saverimuttu, left, currently president and chief experience officer, will advance to CEO as Tom McAlpin, right, becomes chairman
Virgin Voyages closed on a $550m capital raise led by Ares Management, and President Nirmal Saverimuttu will succeed Tom McAlpin as CEO as McAlpin moves to chairman.

In further news, fourth ship Brilliant Lady, which was due to enter service later this year, is delayed. Virgin Voyages cited supply chain issues and said it is evaluating new possible launch dates. The vessel was floated out in November 2022 and had been set to debut from San Juan, Puerto Rico, this winter


Brilliant Lady is pictured under construction last November at Fincantieri's Sestri Ponente

Expanding itineraries

Virgin Voyages is also expanding and rejigging itineraries, with a return to the UK and new ports in the Caribbean and Australia.

The capital infusion comes from funds managed by Ares' Private Equity Group and includes additional capital from existing investors including Virgin Group and Bain Capital.

Follows year-ago $550m from BlackRock

This follows a $550m capital infusion led by BlackRock in August 2022.

'With this new investment alongside our partners at Virgin Group and Bain Capital, we believe the company is on strong footing to capitalize on its differentiated product and value proposition in the growing cruise industry,' said Aaron Rosen, partner and co-portfolio manager of special opportunities in the Ares Private Equity Group.

Next chapter

'We believe that Virgin Voyages continues to be at the forefront of industry growth, and we look forward to working with Tom, Nirmal and the entire management team on this next chapter,' added Jordan Smith, partner in the Ares Private Equity Group.

'The success of this capital raise shows how much Virgin Voyages has achieved and how much further it can go. We are very proud of the experience that Virgin Voyages has created and continues to deliver every day across its fleet,' said Josh Bayliss, CEO of the Virgin Group. 'At Virgin, we have always aimed to create extraordinary experiences and challenge the status quo while putting purpose at the core of  everything we do. With Tom at the helm, Virgin Voyages has established itself as a company that can do that consistently. We are so grateful for his and the team’s leadership in creating a truly brilliant business and look forward to this next phase of the company’s growth.'

McAlpin's continued involvement

As chairman, McAlpin will continue to support the brand and Virgin Voyages' team at an executive level.

'It is hard to express just how proud I am of all that the Virgin Voyages crew has created and the strong endorsement we are receiving from Ares,' he said. 'While I will miss the day-to-day, I believe it is the right time to step aside as CEO. Nirmal is a great friend and experienced leader who lives and breathes the Virgin Voyages culture. I know he will help take this amazing brand and crew to new heights, and I look forward to continuing to support the leadership team as chairman.'

Nirmal Saverimuttu

Saverimuttu, who currently serves as president and chief experience officer, has been with McAlpin from the start of Virgin Voyages, initially as chief commercial officer, joining from the Virgin Group in 2014. He became president in early 2021.

Goldman Sachs served as exclusive financial advisor and sole placement agent to Virgin Voyages. Kirkland & Ellis served as legal counsel to Virgin Voyages. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison served as legal counsel to Ares.