© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Virgin Australia Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane takes off from Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, October 28, 2020. REUTERS/Loren ElliottBy Scott Murdoch and Lewis JacksonSYDNEY (Reuters) -Planning for Virgin Australia’s upcoming initial public offering (IPO) is “well advanced”, Chairman Ryan Cotton said on Wednesday in an internal email that also outlined bonus payments to the airline’s shareholders and staff after a return to profit.Cotton said Australia’s second-biggest airline was days away from finalising a capital return.Investors led by U.S. private equity firm Bain Capital will share a A$730 million ($495.16 million) payment, according to a source who was not authorised to speak publicly.It will be structured as a capital reduction rather than a dividend, with Bain Capital taking around 90% followed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group with 5% and the rest going to the remaining shareholders, the source added.A Virgin Australia spokesperson confirmed the contents of the internal email. A Bain Capital spokesperson declined to comment.The airline had sought up to A$450 million of loans for the capital return, Reuters reported in March.The rewards to staff and shareholders come as Virgin Australia, the key domestic rival to Qantas Airways Ltd, prepares for what is likely to be one of the country’s biggest listings this year.”I can also confirm the IPO planning is well advanced,” Cotton said in the email to staff seen by Reuters.”While there is still no date set and our ultimate window of opportunity will depend on market conditions, we are hopeful this process will progress over the coming quarters,” he added.Virgin Australia Chief Executive Jayne Hrdlicka said on Monday that she would take several weeks of leave to spend time with family after the death of her husband from cancer.In an email drafted before her departure that accompanied Cotton’s, she said the payments to staff and shareholders reflected the “monumental feat” of returning the airline to profitability for the first time in more than a decade.Bain Capital bought Virgin Australia in 2020 after it was placed in voluntary administration, the closest Australian equivalent to Chapter 11 bankruptcy.($1 = 1.4743 Australian dollars)

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