Notable Calls: Facebook, DraftKings and Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson is looking for a special-purpose acquisition company to merge with another of his space companies, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The billionaire’s satellite launcher, Virgin Orbit, has hired bankers including Credit Suisse Group AG to scout for a SPAC to take the company public with a valuation of as much as US$3 billion, said the person, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. Talks are expected to begin in the coming weeks, with plans to reach a deal within the next few months and complete it by late summer, the person said.
Virgin Orbit’s effort would add to a string of transactions in which commercial space companies have sought funding from public markets through the SPAC boom. Rocket Lab, which launches smaller payloads from New Zealand, announced plans earlier this month to merge with Vector Capital at a US$4.1 billion valuation. In February, California-based Astra announced a SPAC deal with Holicity Inc. that implied an enterprise value of US$2.1 billion.
Virgin Group declined to comment, as did Credit Suisse. Virgin Orbit, based in Long Beach, California, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc., which is developing a business to carry tourists to the edge of space, pioneered the SPAC boom for space companies with a 2019 deal. Credit Suisse and LionTree assisted with that merger, which raised US$800 million for Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Orbit’s two-stage rocket attained orbit for the first time in January, deploying 10 small CubeSats as part of a National Aeronautics and Space Administration program. The company’s vehicle drops from the wing of a Boeing Co. 747 jet above 35,000 feet before igniting flying to space. The rocket failed to reach orbit during a previous launch attempt in May 2020.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Virgin Orbit’s plans.