In an article for the Evening Standard yesterday, Virgin boss Richard Branson criticised the lack of confidence in the UK today. He calls it "a rare commodity", but one that is central to getting "Britain moving again and ensure we come out of this recession in good shape to capitalise on future opportunities."
By the same token, however, he bemoans the current overconfidence in the state of the economy: "In recent weeks some investors and commentators have said the ‘worst is over’. I think the picture is less clear cut."
"Britain is at a crossroads," he continues. "It will require more than words to ensure we negotiate our way through this crisis."
But on one point, Branson is certain: "We must reintroduce competition through greater private intitiative."
Interestingly, he cites the example of nationalised banks: "A state-controlled banking system will not attract or keep the best talent," he states. This comment comes in the wake of rumours claiming that Branson may be about to launch his own bank through Virgin Money.
"The Government has the ability to exert considerable influence over the sector, given its big shareholdings in many banks," he says. "The sale of these stakes must promote competition and government should look to break up the larger groups as soon as is possible. We must ensure that we prevent such a crisis again — but we must also bring back competition if we want the consumer and small businesses to be protected."
It’s a timely article from Britain’s most respected entrepreneur. But it is also a perfect piece of marketing to pave the way for Branson to launch an intitiave ticking all the right boxes: an independent Virgin bank that dilutes the government hold over the economy and promotes competition and private enterprise.
Smart move, Branson.
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