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Branson's Spaceship Company Will Go Public

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Billionaire Richard Branson's space-tourism venture Virgin Galactic is getting ready to go public.

The company has agreed to merge with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp., which will take a 49 percent stake in the combined company.

Social Capital Hedosophia is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and the deal would introduce Virgin Galactic as the first and only publicly traded commercial human spaceflight company.

The pro forma enterprise value of the merger is $1.5 billion. Social Capital Hedosophia Founder and CEO, Chamath Palihapitiya, will invest an additional $100 million.

The transaction is expected close in the second half of 2019. Following the merger, the current Virgin Galactic shareholders and Social Capital shareholders would own up to approximately 51 percent and 49 percent of the combined company, respectively.

In a statement, Virgin Galactic noted that its pre-commercial service order book has customer reservations from more than 600 people in 60 countries. This represents about $80 million in total collected deposits and $120 million of potential revenue.

Virgin Galactic's spaceship VSS Unity is the first and the only vehicle built for regular commercial service into space.

Following the deal, George Whitesides will remain as CEO, while Palihapitiya will become Chairman.

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