Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit has agreed to go public through a reverse merger with NextGen Acquisition Corp that will value the satellite-launch company at $3.2bn (€2.7bn).
Investors including Boeing and AE Industrial Partners committed $100m to Virgin Orbit through a private investment in public equity. The merger is expected to provide the new company with $483m in cash proceeds, bolstering its capital until regular launch operations – and more stable revenue streams – are expected in 2023.
The agreement with NextGen extends a wave of mergers with special-purpose acquisition companies. So-called blank-cheque companies like NextGen have raised $129bn globally this year, more than last year’s record $84bn haul, and the deals are playing an increasingly important role in funding new space ventures.
A SPAC transaction involving another launch company, Rocket Lab USA, is set to close this week.
The Virgin Orbit merger is expected to close around year-end. The company will trade on the Nasdaq.
Boeing shares rose nearly 3%.
Companies including Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies are remaking the satellite-launch sector by lowering the cost of missions, in part by reusing rockets. That’s creating opportunities for new businesses in space.