May 11, 2020 / 6:56 PM / 24 days ago

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

FILE PHOTO: Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, poses for a photograph on board of his new cruise liner, the Scarlet Lady at Dover Port in Dover, Britain, February 21, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

(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 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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