Virgin galactic: Branson’s Virgin Galactic space business to go public

By Angus Whitley

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 per cent 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 Inc. founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla Inc.’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.

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