Virgin Trains USA (formerly Brightline) recently announced that the Hubbard Construction Company, Wharton-Smith Inc., The Middlesex Corporation, Granite and HSR Constructors will be the rail construction contractors for Phase 2 of its expansion between Orlando and South Florida.
Virgin Trains USA
Virgin Trains USA (formerly Brightline) has closed on $1.75 billion in private activity bonds (PABs) underwritten by Morgan Stanley and purchased by 67 different investors to help fund the company’s expansion from West Palm Beach, on the Florida East Coast Railway, to Orlando. Virgin described the closing as “one of the largest PAB transactions to date.”
Sir Richard Branson and Patrick Goddard marked the beginning of Brightline’s transition to Virgin Trains USA on April 4 with a ceremony at Virgin MiamiCentral Station that unveiled the passenger rail service’s new branding graphics. Brightline is the express intercity passenger rail service that currently connects Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with expected service to Orlando and Tampa, and between Las Vegas and Southern California.
Miami-based Virgin Trains USA LLC, previously known as Brightline before it rebranded itself following a 2018 partnership forged with Virgin Enterprises Ltd. and founder Richard Branson, has canceled issuing the IPO scheduled for the week of Feb. 11, saying it will pursue other fundraising options. No indication was given whether it will reconsider an IPO in the near future.
Virgin Trains USA announced Jan. 30 that it is launching an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of 28,334,000 shares of common stock. The NASDAQ Global Select Market listing is expected to raise $17 to $19 per share—between $482 million and $538 million—resulting in the company having a market capitalization of up to $3.2 billion.
Last month we reported on the impending demise of the Brightline brand for privately operated passenger trains in Florida, and the takeover by Virgin, at least as far as the public face of the venture is concerned (William C. Vantuono’s initial report on Nov. 16 and this writer’s article concerning the company and its branding on Nov. 26). There have been new developments lately: an initial public offering (IPO) for stock, and the prospect of an additional station near the giant Disney World theme park. The situation facing incumbent management may also be worse than we reported then.
In its former high-flying days, GE’s business model was praised in most MBA programs for its skills in planned, self-destructive obsolescence to cannibalize its operations; to reinvent itself to always stay ahead of the competition by pushing competitors back on their heels. Today, Sir Richard Branson evidences that business acumen quality sorely lacking at Amtrak between the political appointees indifferent to stewardship on the Board of Directors and the ranks of “cardboard senior and executive management” dutifully towing the party line.
Everybody has been watching Brightline, the bold upstart operator of private-sector passenger trains in a nation where every other scheduled train is operated in the public sector, either by Amtrak or by a local transit authority. There has been a lot of news about Brightline lately, and this writer originally intended to focus on the customer experience and the railroad’s plans for the future.
Florida’s Brightline private higher-speed passenger rail service has a new investor, Virgin Group, headed by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson. Virgin Group will make a minority investment in Brightline, which will be managed and operated by Brightline’s executive team and affiliates of Brightline parent Fortress Investment Group. Brightline will rename itself Virgin Trains USA in November and transition to Virgin Trains USA branding in 2019, “leveraging the Virgin brand and marketing expertise for existing and future developments.”