International Business: Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic plans to go public

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space-tourism venture is going public

Billionaire Richard Branson's space-tourism venture, Virgin Galactic, plans to go public by the end of this year as part of a deal with a special objective acquisition company (SPAC) created by venture-capital firms Social Capital and Hedosophia, the companies said on Tuesday.

The US defines space as altitude above 50 miles.

Virgin Galactic and public-investment vehicle Social Capital Hedosophia will merge, with SCH expected to own up to 49 percent of the combined company, the statement said. The combined firm will have an enterprise value of $1.5 billion.

"Having got to know Chamath and Adam over the past few months, I have no doubt that we will be better together and am delighted they are becoming such important partners on our fantastic journey".

FILE - In this December 13, 2018 file photo, a view of Virgin Galactic prior to it reaching space for the first time during its 4th powered flight from Mojave, Calif. Richard Branson's space-tourism venture, Virgin Galactic, is planning to go public, creating the first publicly listed human spaceflight firm, it was reported on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.

Branson isn't alone in the space tourism business: Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin is planning to take space tourists on trips while SpaceX's Elon Musk recently announced plans to take a wealthy Japanese entrepreneur and his friends on a trip around the moon.

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"Great progress in our test flight program means that we are on track for our handsome spaceship to begin commercial service", Branson said in Tuesday's statement.

"Together we will make our dreams reality".

Palihapitiya is investing $100 million of his own money in the merger and is set to be the new partnership's chairman.

The race in becoming the first public company involved in space flight is officially ended, and Virgin Galactic won it. "I can not wait to take my first trip to space and become an astronaut".

The Journal said talks between Palihapitiya and Branson began after he walked away from negotiations with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

To date VG has space tourism reservations from more than 600 people across 60 countries, earning it about $80 million in paid deposits and $120 million in potential revenues, the group said Tuesday.

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