Branson's Virgin Galactic space business plans to go public - report

The deal will help fund Abu Dhabi-backed Virgin Galactic until its spaceships can operate and generate a profit
Branson's Virgin Galactic space business plans to go public - report
By Bloomberg
Tue 09 Jul 2019 11:21 AM

Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic plans to go public and become the world’s first listed space-tourism venture, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The company will be listed this year under a deal with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Social Capital Hedosophia, which is nearing the end of its allotted time to make an acquisition since its trading debut on the New York Stock Exchange in 2017, will buy 49% of Virgin Galactic for about $800 million, the WSJ said.

The deal will help fund Virgin Galactic until its spaceships can operate and generate a profit, the newspaper said. The spaceflight company has raised more than $1 billion since it was founded in 2004, the WSJ said.

Branson is one of several billionaires, including Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla’s Elon Musk, who are racing to send customers into space. About 600 people have paid a total of $80 million to go into orbit on Virgin Galactic aircraft in the next few years, the WSJ said.

Branson in October last year suspended talks to attract $1 billion in investments from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund for the space venture following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Virgin Galactic representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Abu Dhabi's Aabar Investments, now under Mubadala, acquired a 31.8 percent stake in Virgin Galactic in 2010.

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