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, 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 US$800-million, the Journal 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 paper 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 Journal 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. — Reported by Angus Whitley, with assistance from Yan Zhang, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP