British billionaire Richard Branson sold part of his stake in Virgin Galactic Holdings, which focuses on space tourism, for almost $ 300 million (6.5 billion crowns). However, he remains the largest shareholder of the company he founded. The sale came a month after the company completed its first manned space flight, which was attended by 75-year-old Branson, Reuters reported today.
According to a statement for the stock exchange, Branson sold more than ten million shares through its Virgin Investments group from August 10 to 12, which corresponds to a share of almost 4%. Virgin Investments is Virgin Galactic’s largest shareholder, accounting for 22 percent in July, according to Refinitiv.
Branson wants to use the proceeds from the Virgin Group’s leisure and business activities, which have been hit hardest by the covid-19 pandemic, but also to develop new business, a conglomerate spokesman said.
Shares of Virgin Galactic on the New York Stock Exchange fell about three percent today, but later erased some of the losses. Morgan Stanley downgraded stocks on Wednesday and now expects their price to lag behind market-wide developments. In a report for clients, she said that the enthusiasm for Virgin Galactic should cool down as the flight plan enters a quieter period. Credit Suisse also downgraded its rating on Thursday.
The sale of the stake is Branson’s third sale since Virgin Galactic’s listing on the stock exchange in 2019 through a merger with an acquisition company called SPAC. Branson sold shares for $ 504.5 million in May 2020 and $ 150.3 million in April this year, CNBC said.
Virgin Galactic plans to start hiking next year. Branson’s empire, which already includes a range of activities from record companies to soft drinks, will thus expand to space tourism. Branson founded The Virgin in 1970 as a mail order business, and has since been associated with more than 40 businesses worldwide, including Virgin Money UK. Bloomberg estimates the value of Branson’s assets at $ 6.5 billion.