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Branson in talks over bigger Brawn deal
(GMM) Sir Richard Branson is in Bahrain for negotiations about ramping up his sponsorship of the Brawn team.

The head of the Virgin brand said in Australia last month that he intended to rev-up his backing, but admitted on Saturday that he is now in competition with other brands interested in sponsoring the former Honda team.

"At the moment we are negotiating, as are other people, and we may or may not end up doing a full branding exercise," said the British billionaire.

Branson said he is committed minimally to the current deal for the rest of 2009, but on the other hand hopes to up the stakes immediately -- no doubt with a full title sponsorship.

"But someone could come in and pay a silly price," he acknowledged. "If that happens, we will bow out gracefully. At the moment we've made an offer we feel we can afford."

Team boss Ross Brawn said his main hopes are for a multiple year deal.

In Bahrain, some of the Virgin branding on the car has been replaced with Virgin Galactic logos.

No doubt to ensure headlines, Branson said Rubens Barrichello has paid $200,000 for a suborbital space flight, while former triple world champion Niki Lauda wants to train to be a space astronaut.

Austrian Lauda, an owner of commercial airlines and a veteran professional pilot, said: "When I saw this project I was the first knocking on the door."
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