It is hard to establish how many companies are owned by Richard Branson himself. The investment group he founded, Virgin, comprises around 400 different operations, according to the Guardian.
Virgin started out in 1971 as Virgin Records, which expanded into a series of stores in the 1980s. Branson quickly branched into other areas with his business, including a British Airline, travel, health care services, telephone and Wi-Fi services, according to Bloomberg.
Virgin group does not run all of the businesses with the Virgin label these days. Branson also leases the Virgin name to other companies in exchange for annual licensing fees equal to many millions of dollars. Branson also sold off part of the company to shareholders. As of 2012, 49 percent of Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Trains and Virgin Active was owned by outside shareholders and companies, according to the Guardian.