Boeing Is Now An Investor In Two Of Richard Branson's Space Companies

Richard Brandon’s Virgin Orbit will soon join sister company Virgin Galactic (SPCE) and other space stocks on Wall Street in a reverse merger announced Monday that includes backing from Boeing (BA).


Special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) NextGen Acquisition Corp. II (NGCA) will take Virgin Orbit public in a deal that values the small satellite launch service provider at $3.2 billion.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter and Virgin Orbit will list on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “VORB.”

The deal is expected to raise up to $483 million, with $100 million in commitments from a private investment in public equity (PIPE) special fundraising round that includes Boeing and AE Industrial Partners. Boeing’s venture capital arm also invested in Virgin Galactic.

“Boeing’s planned investment in Virgin Orbit will provide Boeing a seat at the small satellite launch table,” said Moody’s analyst  Jonathan Root. “We anticipate that Virgin Orbit and Boeing will mutually benefit by partnering on research and development initiatives as Virgin Orbit looks to grow its small satellite launch operations.”

Virgin Orbit has a unique way of launching small satellites. It uses a Boeing 747 aircraft to air-launch its rockets instead of launching from the ground. The company has a launch deal with the U.S. Space Force and is working on launches with the U.S. Air Force.

Earlier this year the Wall Street Journal reported that Virgin Orbit founder Branson hired Credit Suisse Group AG and LionTree LLC to find a SPAC to take it public.

Virgin Orbit Adds To Space Stocks

Boeing shares rose 3.2% to 219.40 on the stock market today. Virgin Galactic added 3.7%.

Once shunned by the financial community, SPACs offer a way for private companies to go public without an IPO. Instead of selling stock, the private enterprise merges with a shell company that’s already public.

Virgin Galactic kicked off the space-related SPAC deals in 2019. Spire Global (SPIR), a small satellite provider, went public earlier this year through a merger with SPAC NavSight.

Astra Space (ASTRwent public via Holicit in June and Momentus (MNTS) went public via Stable Road Acquisition.

Vector Acquisition’s shareholders approved its proposed merger with Rocket Lab on Friday. It will start trading under RKLB on Wednesday.

Follow Gillian Rich on Twitter for space news and more.


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William Murphy

William Murphy

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