Virgin Orbit, a satellite-launching offshoot of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, is in advanced talks to go public through a SPAC managed by a former Goldman Sachs partner at a valuation of around $3 billion, according to CN News.
A person familiar with the proceedings told CN News that the business is in negotiations with NextGen Acquisition II about a merger.
NextGen II is a special purpose acquisition firm co-led by George Mattson, a former co-head of Goldman Sachs’ global industrials business, and Gregory Summe, the former chairman and CEO of PerkinElmer.
On Saturday, Sky News initially revealed the discussions, claiming that an agreement will be revealed in the coming weeks. Virgin Orbit did not respond to a request for comment from CNBC.
The corporation is a spin-off of Virgin Galactic, Branson’s space tourism venture. Branson’s worldwide corporation Virgin Group owns Virgin Orbit, with a minority investment from Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala.
Virgin Orbit launches its rockets from a modified Boeing 747 aeroplane, a technique known as air launch.
Rather than launch rockets from the ground, as competitors like Rocket Lab and Astra do, the company’s aircraft carries its LauncherOne rockets up to about 45,000 feet altitude and drops them just before the engines fire and accelerate into space – a method the company touts as more flexible than a ground-based system.
LauncherOne is intended to launch small spacecraft weighing up to 500 kilograms’ (1,100 pounds) into orbit.
Virgin Orbit successfully launched its first satellite in January and aims to launch its second later this month.
Next Gen II raised $350 million in its initial public offering in March, with an additional $33 million in over-allotment closing in April, totalling $383 million.
The money would mostly be used to assist Virgin Orbit to expand its operations. In October, Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart told CN News that the business was looking to obtain $150 million in new funding.
In 2019, Branson and billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya used a SPAC transaction to take Virgin Galactic public.