Branson to business: Avoid bribery
British billionaire Richard Branson, who founded the Virgin Group of companies, talks during the ANC Leadership Forum yesterday.
Photo taken from ABS-CBN.

Branson to business: Avoid bribery

Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) - May 26, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Businesses need to be at the forefront in the fight against corruption by keeping a sense of “high moral authority,” one of the world’s billionaires and philanthropists said yesterday.

“We are trying to get business leaders to never ever be tempted to bribe public officials. I think if every business leader does that, then public officials will not ask for bribes,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder and chairman of the British firm Virgin Group.

He also stressed the need for greater competition among industries.

“Business is in a position of putting it right. This is one area where businesses need to stand out,” he said in a forum sponsored by the ABS-CBN News Channel in Pasay City.

Branson ranked 286th in Forbes magazine’s billionaires’ list this year, with a net worth of $5.5 billion.

The 65-year-old high-school dropout currently operates the Virgin brand in airlines,
 financial services and even spaceflight industries.

In 1994, he sold his recording venture Virgin Records for $1 billion and saw his beverage subsidiary, Virgin Drinks, lose to competition with Coca-Cola Co. in 2007.

Commenting on the Philippine business landscape, Branson said rule of law is a vital ingredient in a democracy and that local companies need to embrace more competition.

He voiced support for the opening of more industries to more competition, something the incoming Duterte administration has vowed to prioritize once it takes office on June 30.

“The country is dominated by 20 very big companies. It is difficult for foreign companies to invest in many sectors here and I am not necessarily sure if that is in their interest,” Branson said.

“If you have too much protection, it means you don’t get enough competition and consumers don’t benefit. A little bit more competition from overseas will be good,” he said, adding he would “love to come and bring the Virgin magic” to the country.

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