May 12, 2020 / 3:19 AM / a month ago

Richard Branson to sell 25 million shares in Virgin Galactic to battle pandemic impact

FILE PHOTO: Sir Richard Branson stands on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange ahead of the start of trading in Virgin Galactic in New York, Oct. 28, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group said on Monday that it may sell up to 25 million shares of space tourism company Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (SPCE.N) to raise funds amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said it intends to use the proceeds to support its portfolio of global leisure, holiday and travel businesses that have been affected by the impact of the coronavirus.

Shares of Virgin Galactic, which have gained 69% this year, were down 3.1% at $19.54 in afternoon trade.

Based on Friday’s closing price, the offering would raise as much as $504.5 million.

The company, which aims to offer the first commercial space flight later this year, said in April it would keep running as a critical infrastructure business during the pandemic.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri

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