Sir Richard Branson has named Apple CEO Steve Jobs as the entrepreneur he most admires and said he would be open to the idea of a merger between Virgin and Apple.

The billionaire also heaped praise on Apple, calling it a "brilliant global company".

"I think Steve Jobs, I hope he gets through his current illness, would be the entrepreneur I most admire," Branson said in a short video interview on the T3 website.

"He's the greatest comeback artist as well, he's been down and out and fought his way back, and created a brilliant global company."

"Everything he does is real class. If he wanted to rename his company Virgin Apple, we sure would be happy to merge! A great brand, a great company," Branson continues.

Branson made his fortune through the Virgin Records chain of stores and record label, as well as other ventures including Virgin Atlantic Airways, and is reckoned to be worth just shy of £3bn. Steve Jobs was said to be worth around $5.1bn (about £3.2bn at today's exchange rate) in 2009, according to Forbes magazine.