by Alex Vikoulov [Posted July 9, 2019 3.55 pm PST]
Richard Branson’s space-tourism venture Virgin Galactic readies for liftoff as a publicly-traded company. The special-purpose acquisition firm, Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings, plans to invest about $800 million in Virgin Galactic for a 49% stake in the company with profits expected by 2021.
As first reported by The Wall Street Journal, British billionaire Richard Branson has just announced plans to take Virgin Galactic public by year-end, in order to compete against rivals such as Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX in the new corporate space race.
Space tourism ventures like Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit were founded to take advantage of a skyrocketing demand for space travel and to launch satellite services.
As part of a deal, Virgin Galactic will merge with Social Capital Hedosophia (IPOA) (NYSE: SCH), that will take a 49% stake in Virgin Galactic for about $800 million.
"Upon closing of the transaction, which is expected in the second half of 2019, [Virgin Galactic] will be introduced as the first and only publicly traded commercial human spaceflight company," the companies said in a joint statement.
Virgin Galactic's existing investors are being offered a combination of SCH stock and cash. The current management of Virgin Galactic will remain in place.
Hundreds of people have already signed up and made deposits for a high-speed 90-minute trip aboard a Virgin Galactic space plane priced at $200,000 to $250,000 per seat. This cost is expected to come down “dramatically” over the next decade as space travel becomes much more commonplace and affordable.
Virgin Galactic looks a lot like a software company under the hood. Whether the coming IPO will be hot and whether investors, just like space tourists, will line up to buy shares, remains to be seen.
READ MORE: Richard Branson's Space Unit to Go Public [The Wall Street Journal]
Keywords: Richard Branson, space tourism, Virgin Galactic, Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings, IPO, Wall Street Journal, Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin, Elon Musk, SpaceX, Chamath Palihapitiya, space travel, space race, Virgin Orbit, space tourists
Image Credit: Bloomberg News
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