Richard Branson is stepping down as chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One, saying the company needs a “more hands-on” leader for its transportation projects.
The news, reported by Reuters earlier Monday, comes after Branson this month cut some business ties with Saudi Arabia — as did several other US companies — following the disappearance and killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The billionaire wrote about his response in a blog post Oct. 11. Saudi Arabia last week terminated a planned deal with Virgin Hyperloop One, according to the Financial Times, after Branson put an end to investment talks there.
“At our stage of development, he felt the company needs a more hands-on chairman,” said a Virgin Hyperloop One spokeswoman in a statement. “The Virgin seat will be transitioned to another Virgin Group Executive, Patrick McCall. We thank Richard for his leadership and vision as chairman. We are continuing to work in partnership with the Virgin Group to advance our first projects globally.”
Virgin Hyperloop One’s biggest shareholder, Dubai’s DP World, said the company is looking for a new chairman, Reuters reported. The United Arab Emirates is among the countries where the company has a project planned.