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Virgin Galactic Tumbles as Richard Branson Dumps $150 Million of Stock

Virgin Galactic's founder Richard Branson sold shares equaling about 2.5% of the company to help fund his other businesses.
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Virgin Galactic  (SPCE) - Get Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. Report shares tumbled Thursday after the company announced in an SEC filing that founder Richard Branson sold about $150 million worth of his stock in the space company during the last month.

The sale of 5.6 million shares constitutes about 2.5% of the company, according to Bloomberg, and was part of a plan Branson and the company created in March. He is left with a 24% stake in Virgin Galactic worth about $1.5 billion.

Virgin stock recently traded at $23.56, down 11.7%. It’s still up 11% for the last six months, though it has plummeted 60% since Feb. 11 amid valuation concerns.

The proceeds of Branson’s sale will go to his travel and leisure businesses and help to develop new ventures, a Virgin Group representative told Bloomberg.

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Branson last sold shares worth more than $300 million in the first half of 2020 to support other Virgin Group businesses through the pandemic, Bloomberg reported.

Venture-capital investor Chamath Palihapitiya, chairman of Virgin Galactic, sold about 40% of his stake in the company last month for about $213 million.

In addition last month, Virgin Galactic unveiled the VSS Imagine, the company's first third-generation, or SpaceShip III, craft in its growing fleet, with what the company calls a "breakthrough" livery design.

Also in March, Truist analyst Michael Ciarmoli initiated coverage on Virgin Galactic with a buy rating and $50 price target.

"Ultimately we believe Virgin Galactic can capture at least 50% of the global space tourism total available market by 2030," he said in a commentary.