Virgin Galactic leaders in front of the New York Stock Exchange, from left: Chief Executive Officer George Whitesides, Founder Richard Branson, and President Chamath Palihapitiya.
Billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya, the Virgin Galactic chairman who took the company public through a deal with SPAC in 2019, sold his remaining personal stake this week, a securities filing revealed.
Palihapitiya sold about 6.2 million Virgin Galactic shares on Tuesday and Wednesday, worth about $ 213 million at median sales prices.
He still indirectly owns about 15.8 million shares through Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings, the special purpose acquisition company he formed with investor Ian Osborne.
Palihapitiya, in a statement to CNBC, said it plans to redirect the sale “towards a large investment that I am making to combat climate change.”
“Details of this investment will be released in the coming months. I remain as dedicated as ever to Virgin Galactic’s team, mission and prospects,” Palihapitiya said in the statement.
Virgin Galactic shares fell as much as 7% in Friday trading from their previous close of $ 30.30 a share. The company’s shares, which were down more than 25% this week alone, have lost more than half their value since hitting an all-time high of $ 62.80 in early February.
Stocks remain positive since 2021 began, however, they were up around 18%.
Virgin Galactic’s plane and spacecraft prepare to take off from Spaceport America in New Mexico on December 12, 2020.
Palihapitiya sold about 3.8 million shares of its Virgin Galactic stake in December. At the time, Palihapitiya said it sold the shares “to help manage my liquidity while I fund several new projects beginning in 2021.”
“I remain committed and excited for the future of SPCE. I just wanted to be transparent,” Palihapitiya said in a tweet.
Its latest sales come a week after Virgin Galactic revealed further delays to its spacecraft testing program, saying that it now does not expect commercial flights to begin until early 2022. When the Palihapitiya SPAC merged with the company from Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic said he expected commercial spaceflight to begin in the summer of 2020.
Additionally, former Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides will step down as space director, a spokesperson told CNBC on Wednesday. Whitesides, who stepped down as CEO of former Disney executive Michael Colglazier last year, plans to explore opportunities in public service, the company said.
Whitesides will remain as chairman of Virgin Galactic’s Space Advisory Board, and he and his wife have tickets for space flights purchased in 2005.
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