Richard Branson's Virgin Group wants to invest between AUD50 and 100 million Australian dollars (USD35-70 million) in insolvent Virgin Australia Holdings to retain a minority stake alongside whoever wins the bidding for it when it emerges from administration, sources have told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Virgin Group owned 10% of the Australian company when the coronavirus pandemic grounded the majority of Virgin Australia, Virgin Australia International, Virgin Australia Regional, and Tigerair Australia fleets. It entered voluntary administration on April 21, owing around AUD6.8 billion (USD4.6 billion) to creditors.

Virgin Group has said it wants to play a role in the carrier's future but has declined to specify whether this would take the form of a shareholding or merely maintaining the Virgin brand and associated licensing fees, which have been worth around USD15 million a year.

As previously reported, last week Deloitte selected two US private investment firms, Bain Capital and Cyrus Capital Partners, as final bidders for Virgin Australia Holdings. It is seeking a binding agreement with the winning bidder by June 30.

Sources close to the process said that Virgin Group had informed both bidders that it wants to invest alongside them in return for holding its own 10% stake, a seat on the board, and a say in its strategy.

The group, which launched the airline as Virgin Blue Airlines in 2000, has links with both finalists. Cyrus helped Branson establish Virgin America in 2005 and invest in now-bankrupt flybe. in February 2019. Bain Capital and Virgin Group are joint venture partners in the cruise start-up Virgin Voyages.