Mubadala's space-focussed investment, Virgin Orbit, is going for a Nasdaq float. And this will value the firm at $3.2 billion. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The satellite company Virgin Orbit, in which Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala is a major investor, is going public. It thus values Virgin Orbit at $3.2 billion. 

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Orbit, said “The Virgin Orbit team has proven its ability to create new ideas, new approaches, and new capabilities. They are building on the incredible foundation of their rapid transition into successful commercial launch operations to find new ways to solve big problems that uplift our customers’ amazing ideas, again and again.”

Richard Branson
"It’s another milestone for empowering all of those working today to build space technology that will positively change the world," said Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Orbit.

The float is being done through the now popular SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) route, which allows privately held firms seek a wider investor base through structured deals. Virgin Orbit through its parent company Vieco USA will thus merge with and NextGen Acquisition Corp. II, a SPAC, and which will then lead to Virgin Orbit becoming a publicly-traded company.

On closing, the transaction is expected to provide the combined company up to $483 million in cash proceeds, including up to $383 million of cash held in the trust account of NextGen and a $100 million fully committed PIPE. Mubadala has been an investor since Virgin Orbit's inception. 

Virgin Orbit's sky-high ambitions
Since its founding in 2017, Virgin Orbit developed the world’s first air-launched, liquid-fueled launch system.

The company’s most recent successful launch – conducted on June 30 – delivered satellites for commercial and national security customers from the US and abroad directly into their target orbits. In January last, the company successfully launched satellites for NASA.

Virgin Orbit uses a customized 747 aircraft as a mobile launch site, a flying mission control, and a fully-reusable first stage vehicle. Each mission begins at approximately 35,000 feet above sea level and the LauncherOne rocket achieves a "significant performance advantage" over grounded launch sites while reducing local carbon emissions and acoustic impacts at the launch site when compared to a traditional ground launch.

The combined company will retain the Virgin Orbit name and is expected to be listed on Nasdaq. Existing Virgin Orbit shareholders will roll 100 per cent of their equity into the combined company. NextGen’s public shareholders are expected to own approximately 10 per cent of the combined company, with PIPE (private investment in public equity) investors and the SPAC sponsor expected to own approximately 3 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively, immediately following the IPO closing.

Stock – Mubadala (Virgin Orbit)
Business Combination is being accompanied by a $100 million fully-committed PIPE led by strategic and institutional investors including Boeing and AE Industrial Partners, in addition to existing Virgin Orbit investors and NextGen.

Abdulla Shadid, Executive Director, Growth & M&A at Mubadala, said “Virgin Orbit is a gamechanger for the small satellite launch and space solutions industry and its listing is expected to be yet another milestone in its continuing success story.

"Our investment in Virgin Orbit since its inception is a reflection of our confidence in the company’s ability to carve out a leading role in this sector. It also complements the broad objectives of the UAE’s national space strategy, as reflected in the recent successful 'Hope' satellite mission to Mars.”