Archive for August, 2011


Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet carried Richard Branson’s 90-year-old mother to safety as the Virgin tycoon’s house was engulfed by fire after a lightning storm.

Branson’s mother Eve and other family members escaped unharmed after the fire broke out at The Great House on Necker Island in the Caribbean.

“She [Winslet] was staying there with her children and in fact it was she who carried my mother out of the house,” Branson told Britain’s ITV News.

A blaze rips through Richard Branson's home on Necker Island.A blaze rips through Richard Branson’s home on Necker Island. Photo: Reuters

“She swept her up into her arms and got them out of the house as fast as possible.”

“[She said] ‘it’s like being in a film set where you’re waiting for the words ‘cut’ but they just don’t come’,” the entrepreneur added.

Branson’s 29-year-old daughter Holly was also forced to flee the flames.

Kate Winslet ... rescued Richard Branson's mother.Kate Winslet … rescued Richard Branson’s mother. Photo: Reuters

The 60-year-old founder of the Virgin empire had been staying in another property nearby with his wife Joan and son Sam when the lightning struck the main house.

Tropical storm Irene is tearing across the Caribbean and was expected to dump an additional five to 10 centimetres of rain on the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Monday.

On his blog, Branson said: “We had a really bad tropical storm with winds up to 90 miles [145 kilometres] per hour. A big lightning storm came around 4:00 am and hit the house.

Engulfed by flames ... fire sweeps through Richard Branson's Caribbean retreat.Engulfed by flames … fire sweeps through Richard Branson’s Caribbean retreat. Photo: Reuters

“My son Sam rushed to the house and helped get everyone out. Kate Winslet, her boyfriend and her family were there and Holly and some of her friends were also staying.

“The main house is completely destroyed and the fire is not yet completely out. My office was based in the house and I have lost thousands of photographs which is very sad.

“We want to rebuild the house as soon as we can. We have a wonderful staff here and we want them to stay in work.

Wants to rebuild ... Richard Branson.Wants to rebuild … Richard Branson. Photo: Reuters

“We’ll all stay here for the time being. There’s a lot of damage and we won’t be able to stick it back together again right away. It was a beautiful house.”

Branson bought the island in the early 1980s. It is part of the British Virgin Islands.

Each bedroom has its own balcony, king-size bed and en-suite bathroom.

“Set on the top of Devil’s Hill, this beautiful house is the heart of the island,” Necker’s website says.

“The jewel in the crown is the master suite which has its own jacuzzi and private terrace with panoramic views over the ocean and neighbouring islands.”

The island can be hired privately for $52,300 a night

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


Controversial fertiliser tycoon Pankaj Oswal says PPB Advisory, the receiver and manager appointed by ANZ Bank to Burrup Fertilisers, is ”irresponsibly” using company funds.

Mr Oswal is suing Burrup Fertilisers for $US491 million ($A475 million) in cost overruns and is challenging the validity of the receivership.

Mr Oswal says PPB Advisory charging $7 million in fees and disbursements in less than six months is ”scandalous”, as is the $4.6 million in legal fees.

”It should be noted that virtually all my legal actions are against PPB Advisory, not Burrup Fertilisers,” he said.

”It is also interesting that even after all of this expenditure, Burrup still has $US41 million in cash.

”Not bad for a company put into receivership.”

Mr Oswal said it was ”one of many reasons” why he and his wife Radhika were challenging the receivership.

PPB Advisory was appointed receivers in December 2010.

Mr Oswal said the plant since then has lost 60 days of operations due to fire, equipment failure and mismanagement.

He said insurance premiums had skyrocketed, staff morale was low and lost operations had cost the company $80 million in revenue.

”It is worth noting that by comparison, when I ran the operation the plant ran for 420 consecutive days at 115 per cent of the name plate capacity,” Mr Oswal said.

He also said he believed there was collusion between ANZ, fertiliser company Yara and PPB Advisory to force him to sell at the lowest possible price.

Mr Oswal is also taking action against the Commonwealth Bank for selling his Gulfstream jet at a discounted price to an organisation in the United States.

”I am informed that ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank have also colluded to put me under further pressure,” he said.

Mr Oswal will take the matters to the Supreme Court in Melbourne in the next several months.

A spokesman for PPB Advisory said they were not interested in a public slanging match with Mr Oswal.

He said the sale process was continuing and the fees were ”firmly in line” with industry standards.


Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha