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Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has settled a $300 million lawsuit filed by former Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Colin Veitch, who claimed the billionaire entrepreneur’s foray into the cruise industry was built on stolen ideas.
The parties gave notice of the settlement Monday, about 10 months after Veitch filed the suit in federal court in Miami alleging misappropriation of a business plan that he had presented to Virgin. Veitch was CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line from 2000 until 2008.
According to the suit [see below], Veitch presented his ideas for two 4,200-passenger “Ultra Ships” to Virgin in 2011 and both sides agreed to partner on a venture. After Veitch arranged for a deal with a shipyard, lined up financing, assembled a team and prepared a pitch for investors, he said, the company changed the agreement to minimize his role and moved forward without him.
Terms of the settlement were confidential. In a joint statement, Veitch, the Virgin Group and Virgin Cruises said they had “amicably resolved the action.”
“Mr. Veitch states that he has always been a believer in the power of the Virgin Brand to shake up the cruise industry and looks forward to seeing the team deliver a unique product to attract new consumers and expand the cruise market,” the statement said. “Virgin and Virgin Cruises thank Mr. Veitch for his contribution during the early phases of the project, given his long record of innovation and industry insight. They wish him well for his future endeavors.”
A statement released by a Virgin Cruises spokesman also said that neither party would comment further on the resolution.
Virgin had long insisted the claims were without merit, including publicly at a press event in June where executives including Branson announced plans for the launch of a cruise line. Instead of the 4,200-passenger ships Veitch had proposed, Virgin signed a letter of intent to order three 2,800-passenger vessels for delivery in 2020, 2021, and 2022.
“Very happy to share that we’re full steam ahead,” Branson said at the time.