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Richard Branson plans new SPAC to take Virgin Orbit public

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Richard Branson plans new SPAC to take Virgin Orbit public

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Bankers, including Credit Suisse Group AG and LionTree LLC, have been hired to look for a SPAC to take Branson’s Virgin Orbit public

Richard Branson plans new SPAC to take Virgin Orbit public
Billionaire Richard Branson is looking for a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) to merge with his space company Virgin Orbit, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Virgin Orbit is aiming for a valuation of up to $3 billion.
Bankers, including Credit Suisse Group AG and LionTree LLC, have been hired to look for a SPAC to take Branson’s Virgin Orbit public, the person told WSJ on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private. It is valued in the range of $2.5 billion to over $3 billion.
Talks are expected to begin in the coming weeks, and there are plans to reach a deal within the next few months, besides completing it by late summer, the source said.
Virgin Group, however, declined to comment, as did Credit Suisse.
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The move could be seen as Branson’s latest effort in the wake of a recent boom in blank-check listings. His Virgin Group has played on both sides of the SPAC craze. In 2019, he listed Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc., his space-tourism company, by merging it with a SPAC, which is essentially a pool of money with a stock-market listing.
Then, in February this year, a Virgin-backed blank-check company said it would merge with genetic-testing company 23andMe Inc. The deal valued the company at $3.5 billion, including debt.
Earlier this month, Rocket Lab, a smaller payload launcher from New Zealand, announced plans to merge with Vector Capital at a $4.1 billion valuation. In February, California-based Astra announced a SPAC deal with Holicity Inc that implied a value of $2.1 billion.
Virgin Galactic Holdings, which is developing a business to carry tourists to the edge of space, pioneered the SPAC boom for space companies with the 2019 deal, assisted by Credit Suisse and LionTree, raising $800 million.
Meanwhile, Virgin Orbit’s two-stage rocket attained orbit for the first time in January as part of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration program of the US. The company’s vehicle drops from the wing of a 747 jet of Boeing Co. above 35,000 feet before flying to space.
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