Sir Richard Branson has stepped down from his position as chair of Virgin Hyperloop One.
Patrick McCall is set to take over from Branson as chair, Virgin announced on their website yesterday.
McCall is one of Virgin’s experienced senior executives and is currently chair of Virgin Galactic, co-chairs Virgin Trains, and holds board positions on Virgin Active, Virgin Money, and OneWeb.
Branson stepped down from his position at Virgin Hyperloop One saying the role needed a more ‘‘hands-on’’ chair.
The Hyperloop position was the first board level position that Branson had taken on in 20 years when he joined the board last year.
In a statement, Branson said “For the first time in more than 20 years, I took on a chairman’s role last year to help Virgin Hyperloop One through a transitional period. We have exciting projects in India, Spain and are working with a number of US states to further develop this ground-breaking technology”.
“At this stage in the company’s evolution, I feel it needs a more hands-on chair, who can focus on the business and these opportunities. It will be difficult for me to fulfil that commitment as I already devote significant time to my philanthropic ventures and the many businesses within the Virgin Group” Branson added.
Hyperloop One had been due to sign a deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to carry out a feasibility test in the country, the Financial Times reported.
The deal was due to be signed at the Future Innovation Initiative (FII) conference in Riyadh.
However, last week it was reported that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia cancelled the upcoming deal with Virgin Hyperloop One following out-spoken criticism of the country by Branson over the continuing controversy surrounding the death of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
As the situation surrounding Khashoggi’s death has progressed, many other western companies have now said they are going to boycott the FII conference.
The events surrounding the potential Hyperloop One deal with Saudi Arabia and Branson’s exit are not believed to be related.
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