British multinational venture capital conglomerate Virgin Group has dropped majority control of Virgin Galactic, trading stakes worth $366 million to support other Virgin businesses affected by coronavirus pandemic.
The group co-founded by Sir Richard Branson traded 25 million shares in Virgin Galactic, a fifth of its stake that brings its ownership holding below 50 percent. Virgin continues to be the largest shareholder with a 40 percent stake, giving it a dominant say in running the business.
The share transaction was completed by Vieco 10, an investment agency managed by the group. Virgin would use the money to “support its portfolio of global leisure, holiday and travel businesses that continue to be affected by the unprecedented impact of Covid-19”, the company said.
The group’s airlines are anticipated to take the major share of the returns. Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia have faced hardship on revenues as passenger aircraft around the world have been restricted due to the pandemic. Virgin Atlantic has asked for up to £500m in loans and guarantees from the UK government. Virgin Australia was placed into administration in April after its application for a bailout worth $886m was denied by the Australian government.