Sir Richard Branson quit his role as chairman of Virgin Hyperloop One tonight, in a move that comes days after Saudi Arabia said it was scrapping a planned deal with the company following the billionaire’s decision to freeze his ties with the kingdom.
In a statement this evening the company, which plans to build a supersonic transport system in the United Arab Emirates and other countries, quoted Branson as saying that the firm needed “a more hands-on chair who can focus on the business”.
The decision comes less than a week after reports that Saudi Arabia had terminated a deal with Virgin Hyperloop in retaliation to Branson’s decision to suspend business talks with Riyadh following the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
A spokesperson for Virgin said that the decision had been in the pipeline "for some time".
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 fulfill that commitment as I already devote significant time to my philanthropic ventures and the many business within the Virgin Group."