Virgin Galactic falls as billionaire Branson sells stake worth $300 million

FILE PHOTO: A Banner hangs outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) ahead of the Virgin Galactic (SPCE) IPO in New York, U.S., October 28, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) -Shares of Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc fell nearly 3% on Friday after its founder and British billionaire Richard Branson sold a portion of his stake for nearly $300 million.

Branson sold more than 10 million shares between Aug. 10 and 12, according to a regulatory filing from late Thursday.

The move comes a month after the space tourism company completed its first fully crewed test flight into space with Branson on board.

The money from the share sale will be used to support the pandemic-struck leisure and travel businesses of Branson’s Virgin Group, as well as to develop new businesses, a spokesperson for the British conglomerate said.

The latest sale leaves Branson with about 46.3 million shares worth roughly $1.2 billion as of stock’s last closing price. He had in April sold stock worth over $150 million.

Branson’s Virgin Investments is the largest shareholder of the space tourism company and has a stake of about 22% as of June, according to Refinitiv data.

The company’s shares were last down at $25.18 on Friday.

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