Virgin Galactic falls as billionaire Branson sells stake worth $300 million

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/File Photo

August 13, 2021

(Reuters) -Shares of Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc fell nearly 3% on Friday after its founder and British billionaire Richard Branson sold a portion of his stake for nearly $300 million.

Branson sold more than 10 million shares between Aug. 10 and 12, according to a regulatory filing https://bit.ly/3jPMEFE from late Thursday.

The move comes a month after the space tourism company completed its first fully crewed test flight into space with Branson on board.

The money from the share sale will be used to support the pandemic-struck leisure and travel businesses of Branson’s Virgin Group, as well as to develop new businesses, a spokesperson for the British conglomerate said.

The latest sale leaves Branson with about 46.3 million shares worth roughly $1.2 billion as of stock’s last closing price. He had in April sold stock worth over $150 million.

Branson’s Virgin Investments is the largest shareholder of the space tourism company and has a stake of about 22% as of June, according to Refinitiv data.

The company’s shares were last down at $25.18 on Friday.

(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)