Virgin Galactic shares plummet after chairman dumps $213M stake


Virgin Galactic’s stock took a nosedive Friday after chairman Chamath Palihapitiya cashed out his personal stake for about $213 million.

Shares in Richard Branson’s space-exploration firm tumbled 21 percent to a low of $23.95 after Palihapitiya, a prominent venture capitalist, revealed that he dumped the last 6.2 million shares in his personal portfolio.

The stock was recently off about 13 percent at $26.45 as of 2:10 p.m.

Virgin Galactic’s share price more than doubled at the start of the year but has nearly wiped out those gains since Feb. 11.

Palihapitiya previously trimmed his stake in the company by 3.8 million shares in December to free up cash for new projects. He told Business Insider the proceeds from the latest sale will go “into a large investment I am making towards fighting climate change.”

Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson (right), founder of Virgin Galactic, poses with a ceremonial bell and a spaceship model at the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate the first day of trading of Virgin Galactic Holdings shares in 2019.
EPA

“The details of this investment will be made public in the next few months,” the Social Capital chief told the outlet in a statement. “I remain as dedicated as ever to Virgin Galactic’s team, mission and prospects.”

Palihapitiya and business partner Ian Osborne still indirectly own about 16 million shares in the spaceship builder through an investment firm called SCH Sponsor Corp. The pair helped take Virgin Galactic public in 2019 by merging it with their special purpose acquisition company, Social Capital Hedosophia.

Virgin Galactic completed its first rocket-powered flight from its New Mexico spaceport in December and plans to eventually carry paying customers into space.

More than 600 people have bought tickets for flights where they’ll be able to get a view of Earth and experience weightlessness.

With Post wires

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