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Public Listing Plans For Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic

Public Listing Plans For Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic – the space-tourism company of British billionaire Richard Branson is planning to get itself listed at a stock exchange, said the company on Tuesday. 
The listing, which is scheduled to take place in the second half of 2019,  would be a part of a merger deal that the company had struck earlier with  a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called Social Capital Hedosophia that was founded by venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya.
SPACs are companies that are investment companies already publicly listed and which finances purchase of an existing company by issuing an initial public offering.
49 per cent of the new merged entity would be owned by Social Capital Hedosophia, which was created in 2017 by Palihapitiya’s Social Capital along with venture capital firm Hedosophia. Virgin Galactic said that new company created after the deal would have a combined enterprise value of $1.5 billion.
The Wall Street Journal first carried the news of the public listing which was confirmed later by Virgin Galactic. The Journal had also reported that a total investment of $800 million into Virgin Galactic would be made by Palihapitiya’s SPAC.
The listing of Virgin Galactic would be the first such listing of a human spaceflight company. According to the news paper report, the two companies have been in negotiations since the failed talks between Brandon and Saudi Arabia for a possible investment in the space travel company by the Middle East nation last year.
Virgin Galactic was founded by Branson in 2004 and is under pressure and in competition to develop space tourism capabilities with the United States based SpaceX, owned by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
Blue Origin has announced its intention and plans of flying human to the moon by 2024. On the other hand, the focus of SpaceX has been more on development of capabilities for cargo missions to space instead of space tourism. However, Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder, has said on earlier occasions that it would be “pretty cool” if there were paid space travelers on SpaceX’s recently unveiled Crew Dragon ship.
In contrast, about 600 tickets to aspiring astronauts have already been sold by Virgin Galactic which has helped the company to generate revenues of $80 million. A test passenger was carried into space was by the company’s VSS Unity ship along with three astronauts in February.
“Great progress in our test flight program means that we are on track for our beautiful spaceship to begin commercial service,” Branson said in a statement Tuesday. “By embarking on this new chapter, at this advanced point in Virgin Galactic’s development, we can open space to more investors and in doing so, open space to thousands of new astronauts.”
However there has been multiple setbacks for the efforts of Branson’s company to take common travelers to space. In 2014, there was a fatal crash involving Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo in which a co-pilot was killed while the pilot suffered serious injuries.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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