Three global finance houses are tipped to be leading the field to rescue Virgin Australia from administration.

Any deal is likely to see Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson  maintain a 10% stake in the carrier.

BGH Capital, Bain Capital and Canadian giant Brookfield are reported to be leading an eight-strong list of bidders that placed formal offers for the Australian airline on Friday.

The other bidders include US investors Indigo Partners and Oaktree Capital, as well as Australian mining tycoon Andrew Forrest, the I newspaper reported.

The eight suitors are expected to be whittled down this week, with a victor expected to be declared by early June.

Virgin Australia went into administration last month with A$5 billion of debt.

Administrator Deloitte said that “a number of parties have already registered their interest in being involved in seeing Virgin come through this process as a restructured financially secure business, which can re-commence normal operations as soon as possible as the Covid-19 pandemic allows”.

The move comes as Branson closes in on a deal to raise around £750 million from investors, including himself, to pump into Virgin Atlantic.

Once the deals have been agreed the airline will return to the government in order to seek access to Covid loans and guarantees worth a further £500 million.