Virgin Orbit uses SPAC to enter NASDAQ

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Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit satellite launch system (and not to be confused with his Virgin Galactic passenger tourism venture) is set to go public with a NASDAQ quote. The company says its revenues will grow 100-fold by 2025 to $1.55 billion.

Virgin Orbit has merged with one of the increasingly fashionable Special Purpose Acquisitions Companies (SPAC). The SPAC merger will see Virgin Orbit receive $483 million when the deal closes which is made up of $383 million from the SPAC deal and a further $100 million from investments by Boeing and AE Industrial Partners.

Virgin Orbit launches its satellites from under the Port wing of a modified Boeing 747 (‘Cosmic Girl’) with its LauncherOne rocket system. The launcher is dropped from the aircraft’s wing at some 45,000 ft, fires up and accelerates into space. The system is designed for smallish satellites of up to about 500 kgs.

The partner in the SPAC is ‘NextGen Acquisition Corp’ a business founded and led by a former Goldman Sachs partner, George Mattson. The deal, when it concludes values the overall business at some $3.7 billion.

Existing investors will own 85 percent of the business. NextGen will hold 10 per cent.

Virgin states it has an order backlog of some $300 million in active contracts, with a further $2.3 billions-worth in “identified sales opportunities” currently being pursued.

Last year Virgin Orbit’s revenues were just $3.9 million and a net loss of $121.5 million. In its SEC filing it said that its revenues next year (2022) would be $70 million, growing in 2023 to $331 million, and then $914 million in 2024, to $1.55 billion in 2025 and more than $2 billion in 2026.

The company is currently building 5 of its LauncherOne rockets and has capacity to build 20 each year.


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