Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic (C), poses next to George T. Whitesides (R), CEO of Virgin Galactic Holdings, after ringing the first trading bell on the company’s first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange on October 28th. 2019.
Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images
Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, who served on the company’s stock exchange in 2019, has sold more than $ 150 million in shares in the company in the past three days, according to a securities filing filed on Wednesday.
Branson and four companies he controls, including the Virgin Group, sold 5,584,000 shares of Virgin Galactic between April 12 and 14. The shares were valued at $ 150.3 million and sold for between $ 26.85 and $ 28.73.
Virgin shares closed at $ 26.68 on Wednesday, up 12% for the year.
Branson’s sale comes a month after Virgin Galactic chairman Chamath Palihapitiya sold his remaining personal stake in the company. Palihapitiya told CNBC at the time that he intended to redirect the sale “into a large investment I’m making to fight climate change,” adding that he “remains the team, mission and prospects of Virgin Galactic is obliged “.
Last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic damaged the Virgin Group’s leisure and travel businesses, Branson sold around $ 500 million of its stake in Virgin Galactic. A Virgin Group spokesman said in a statement to CNBC that this week’s sale will serve the same purpose.
“Virgin intends to use the net proceeds from this sale to support its portfolio of global leisure, vacation and travel companies that continue to experience the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 and to help new and existing businesses develop and grow” Said Virgin Group.
The Virgin Group remains Virgin Galactic’s largest shareholder with a 24% stake.
Preflight operations are ongoing on the Unity SpaceShipTwo vehicle and the company’s mother ship Eve.
The space tourism company is working to complete the development of the spacecraft that will take people to the edge of space and back. Virgin Galactic suffered a setback in December when electromagnetic interference caused the last space experiment to be halted prematurely – the next attempt was expected in May.
The development delays have pushed Virgin Galactic’s planned debut of its space tourism service back. CEO Michael Colglazier said the company doesn’t expect commercial flights to begin until early 2022. Virgin Galactic expects four more space flight tests with its “VSS Unity”. Spaceship, including flying Branson this summer.
Last month, Virgin Galactic launched VSS Imagine, the second spacecraft in its fleet and the first in its next-generation vehicle class.
“In order for business to scale in the places we aspire to, we need two things: we need a lot more ships than we do now, and we also need the ships that we are advancing to be built a way like them can be serviced in a way that we can have much faster [turnaround times between flights] than what we have with Unity, “Colglazier told CNBC in March.