Richard Branson Seeking More Funding for Virgin Galactic & Virgin Orbit

WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo fly right overhead. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Having broken off a $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabia following that government’s murder and dismemberment of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Richard Branson has hired LionTree Advisors to drum up funding for Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit and The Spaceship Company, Sky News reports.

Discussions with prospective investors, including sovereign wealth funds, private equity firms, high net worth individuals and strategic partners, are already under way, according to people close to the process.

LionTree’s appointment is understood to have been made on the back of expressions of investor interest that followed Galactic’s test flight in December to the edge of space.

Sources said this weekend that Sir Richard was seeking funding that would value Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit, which launches satellites for commercial customers, at a combined sum of well over $2bn (£1.55bn).

The precise amount that he is looking to raise has yet to be determined, but people close to the process suggested it would be at least $250m (£193m), representing a minority stake.

In October 2017, Branson signed a memorandum of understanding for a $1 billion investment by  Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. The deal, which included an option for $480 million more,  would have injected funding into Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit and The Spaceship Company.

The murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey put an end to the deal. Branson was also set to invest in a new city named Neom that Saudi Arabia plans to build on the Red Sea.

Branson has said that Virgin has spent $1 to $1.3 billion on the three companies. That figure includes $390 million invested by aabar Investments, which is one of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funds.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Here is hoping he is able to find it. It would be sad to run out of funding now. But these numbers do show how naive the Ansari X-Prize was in thinking $10 million would be able start a space tourist venture.

  • Cameron

    Well, technically, it did…

  • Robert G. Oler

    it is really hard to see how any amount of money starts a viable space tourism group…other then suborbital flight.

    I have yet heard a coherent explanation of why cities on the bottom of the sea floor have not taken off, where it is vastly less expensive to survive and we are suppose to have millions wanting to go into space

  • savuporo

    Wut ? No space tourist venture has started

  • Cameron

    Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic both fit in this category. Neither is operational yet, but they certainly exist, and VG is taking money from anyone who wants to throw it their way for a ride.

  • windbourne

    I wish that Britain would focus on underseas work and mining.
    It would be useful for them to push it.