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Richard Branson: Why Virgin Galactic Went Public on the U.S. Markets

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Virgin Galactic is the first space tourism company to go public on the U.S. markets. 

The company officially opened for trading Monday morning. The company went public via a merger with Chamath Palihapitiya's Social Capital Hedocophia. 

Social Capital Hedosophia was previously listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker (IPOA) , but will now trade under the ticker SPCE. 

Social Capital closed Friday evening trading around $11, but opened Monday over $12. 

The process of merging with an already public company allowed Branson's company to enter the public markets without filing the traditional extensive paperwork process with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

"As a result of the merger, Virgin Galactic received more than $450 million of primary proceeds with a market cap of $2.3 billion. Virgin Galactic holders own about 59% of the new company," reported TheStreet's Tony Owusu. Those shareholders include Branson, who told CNBC that he planned to hold on to his 51% controlling stake in the company following the debut.

Virgin Galactic went public after a series of unicorn IPO's--think Peloton (PTON) , Uber (UBER) , and Lyft (LYFT) all came to the public markets with less than stellar first days of trading. 

Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, talked to TheStreet about why the company is based in the United States and went public on a U.S. market. 

Branson said that it all started with Burt Rutan, the engineer that the company was built on. 

But, of course, it goes further than that. 

Branson said that--while the Virgin Group and Virgin Atlantic were based in the United Kingdom--his companies include Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit--which Branson said will launch in a couple of months--and Virgin Hyperloop are all U.S.-based companies. Of course, we can't forget Virgin Cruises, which Branson said will operate out of Miami, Florida. 

However, one key reason for Virgin Galactic to operate out of New Mexico and California is simply because, "...and you know, some of the best engineers in the Space business are over here," said Branson.

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