Monday 23 August 2021 1:32 pm

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit to go public through $3.2bn Spac deal

Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit will go public through a blank-cheque deal that values the company at $3.2bn (£2.3bn), it confirmed today.

The small satellite launch firm will merge with special purpose acquisition company (Spac) NextGen Acquisition Corp.

The deal also includes $100m of so-called Pipe (private investment in public equity) funding from backers including Boeing and AE Industrial Partners.

Shares in NextGen jumped 14 per cent in pre-market trading.

Virgin Orbit is one of the frontrunners among a new breed of firms building miniaturised launch systems in a bid to cash in on an expected boom in demand for company satellites in the coming years.

The company, which was spun off from Branson’s space tourism firm Virgin Galactic in 2017, completed its first successful launch into space in January when it delivered 10 Nasa satellites to orbit.

The blank-cheque deal will be the British billionaire’s latest foray into the world of Spac listings, which have become an increasingly popular route to public markets.

Virgin Galactic used the method for its listing in 2019, while Virgin Group Acquisition Corp recently merged with 23andMe in a deal valuing the genetics firm at $3.5bn.

The deal between Virgin Orbit and NextGen is expected to provide $483m in proceeds for the combined company, which will be listed on the Nasdaq.