Capitalism in space:It appears that Richard Branson is selling about 25% of shares in Virgin Galactic in order to prop up his airline and travel businesses that have been crushed by the Wuhan flu panic.
Branson’s Virgin Group may sell as many as 25 million shares in the space-travel firm, with the proceeds going to his leisure and travel businesses, according to a statement on Monday. The 69-year-old Briton is trying to save Virgin Atlantic, which has struggled to qualify for a UK-supported loan program aimed at helping businesses survive the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. He’s seeking outside investors for the airline, while also weighing an infusion of his own funds.
The irony here is that Virgin Galactic has been a big financial money sink since its inception in the mid-2000s, having never flown a single customer in its fifteen-plus year existence. However, Branson has bamboozled a lot of people into buying its stock in the past year, since it went public, causing the stock to rise from its initial price of about $12 to about $18 to $20. This sell-off gives Branson an almost 100% profit on the stock, a good deal indeed for him, even if the company never makes a dime.
He says he is pumping the money back into his other businesses, but we shall see.
What the sale means however is that Branson no longer has a majority share in Virgin Galactic. The biggest shareholder is now Social Capital Hedosophia, created by venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya.