Sir Richard Branson is being sued for $300m for allegedly "stealing an idea"

Furore over Virgin Cruises

British billionaire Sir Richard Branson is being sued for allegedly stealing plans to build two luxury ships capable of carrying 4,200 people each.

Colin Veitch, former CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, is seeking more than $300m (£200m) in damages. He has filed the case in Miami federal court on behalf of his VSM Development Company.

According to the lawsuit, it was Veitch who told Branson that a conglomerate like Virgin could be a big player in the luxury cruise market.

Under the agreement, Veitch could have made a profit of up to $314m. Veitch claims that Virgin backtracked from the original agreement and changed terms so that Veitch would get nothing unless the ships were profitable.

Veitch, who headed Norwegian Cruise Line from 2000 to 2008, has requested the judge to stop Branson from launching Miami-based Virgin Cruises.

Virgin Cruises is being bankrolled by private equity firm Bain Capital and Tom McAlpine, who was a key member in launching Disney Cruise Line in 1996 and is spearheading the company.

Last week, Branson told the Daily Telegraph that building the ships would cost £1.1bn and they will be built in a German or Italian shipyard.

Virgin has dismissed Veitch’s claims.

A spokesperson said: “Richard Branson and the Virgin Group first looked at the cruise market in the late 1970s, and our current team has been exploring the opportunity for more than a decade.

“Over the years, we have been in discussions with a number of parties including the plaintiff, and those discussions ceased in 2012. We strongly believe the claim has no merits.”

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Readers' comments (5)

  • How does anyone think Richard Branson got as rich as he is, Virgin take the ideas and their contract states that if they say no and then do it in any format TOUGH, so good luck,hope you get a good Judge!!

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  • Based on the information given this claim is ridiculous - hope the court treats with the derision it deserves!

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  • The idea of building a cruise ship isn't new.

    If I'm discussing business ideas with a potential JV partner, I get a Non-Disclosure Agreement signed. If he's got one, and it is very specific, he might have a chance.

    Otherwise, he's on a hiding to nothing.

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  • Anonymous

    Derek is quite right
    Are there any NICE billionaires? I doubt that!
    Good luck Colin

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  • Anonymous

    I have to say this doesn´t come as a surprise, not at all. Obviously he´s about to get what he would have in Karma.
    Btw who did hit him on the nose? Why this ridiculous gesture with his hands? Is the man on the picture also one of those who is necking on Necker Island?

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