Branson sells down Virgin Galactic stake
Richard Branson has sold a further 10.4 million shares in Virgin Galactic, worth US$300 million.
Funds raised from the transaction will be used by Virgin Group to support other businesses, including the pandemic-damaged Virgin Atlantic.
It is the third time the entrepreneur has sold millions shares in the space tourism business since it listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2019.
A regulatory filing shows the price of each share ranged between US$25-34.
The shares represent about four per cent of Virgin Galactic.
Post-sale, Branson remains the biggest investor in the space company, with an 18 per cent holding.
Shares in the sub-orbital tourism company wobbled in response to the deal, first falling three per cent in early trading and then recovering at one per cent down.
“Virgin intends to use the net proceeds from this sale to support its portfolio of global leisure, holiday and travel businesses that continue to be affected by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to supporting the development and growth of new and existing businesses,” Virgin Group said in a statement.
Virgin Atlantic has been hard hit by the pandemic, suffering an 80 per cent drop in both passenger numbers and revenue in 2020.
The airline, which is 51 per cent owned by Virgin Group and 49 per cent owned by Delta Airlines, has needed help to keep it aloft.
Branson sold Virgin Galactic shares back in May last year to keep the airline operating, while, in September, the airline received $1.6 billion loan from private-equity firm Davidson Kempner after the UK government refused to provide emergency support.