British tycoon Branson to list blank-check firm in Amsterdam, Sky News says

FILE PHOTO: Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson wears his astronaut's wings at a news conference at Spaceport America
FILE PHOTO: Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson wears his astronaut's wings at a news conference, after flying with a crew in Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane VSS Unity to the edge of space at Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, U.S., July 11, 2021. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

January 7, 2022

(Reuters) – Billionaire Richard Branson is set to launch his first European blank-check company on the Amsterdam stock exchange in the next few months, Sky News reported on Friday, as the British businessman taps investors for takeover targets.

The tycoon aims to list the special acquisition company, or SPAC, on Amsterdam’s Euronext stock exchange instead of the bourse in London, where his Virgin Group empire is based, the report said, citing an unidentified source.

Amsterdam was Europe’s top share trading venue in 2021, although British regulators have reformed rules to boost London’s role as a financial hub and global centre for listing.

Branson’s blank-check company initially aims to raise 200 million euros ($226 million), the Sky News report said.

Virgin Group said it did not comment on “rumour or speculation”. Euronext Amsterdam said it did not comment on potential issuers on its markets.

Branson, a serial entrepreneur now recovering from what was described as a mild case of COVID-19, has used SPACs elsewhere.

His space venture Virgin Galactic and his satellite programme Virgin Orbit Holdings went public by merging with SPACs. Last year, a SPAC backed by Branson took consumer DNA-testing firm 23andMe public.

SPACs are shell companies that raise money on stock markets to buy private businesses, providing an easy route for the target to gain a listing without going through the rigorous process of a traditional initial public offering.

($1 = 0.8852 euros)

(Reporting by Sinchita Mitra and Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri and Edmund Blair)