Richard Branson
Richard Branson. (Getty)
  • Richard Branson is looking to raise $400 million – the equivalent of R6.5 billion – in a special purpose acquisition company, a US filing showed Wednesday. 
  • VG Acquisition Corp, the name of the new company intends to sell 40 million units at a price of $10 per unit. 
  • The company said it plans to search for targets that operate in consumer-facing industries in US and Western Europe. 
  • Visit Business Insider SA's homepage for more stories.

Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group has joined the "blank-cheque" frenzy and is looking to raise $400 million – the equivalent of R6.5 billion – to fund a possible takeover.  

A filing with the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday shows that VG Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company, also known as SPAC, intends to sell 40 million units at an individual price of $10. 

The company said it plans to "search for targets that operate in consumer-facing industries in the U.S. and Western Europe."

It will focus on "businesses that provide consumer experiences in the sectors in which Virgin has historically created significant shareholder value," the filing said.

Branson is looking to expand his Virgin portfolio after the pandemic has battered parts of his business. His Virgin Atlantic airline filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the US last month.

Branson has sold one of his companies to a SPAC before. 

Branson sold Virgin Galactic to tech billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya's SPAC, Social Capital Hedosophia, allowing his space tourism company to go public last October. 

A SPAC, also dubbed a blank-cheque company, is one created solely for the purpose of buying out an already operational company, using the proceeds of an initial public offering. The targets of these investments are often not made public before the public listing, meaning that investors generally go in blind as to what they're buying into. (And so can be said to be handing those controlling the company a blank cheque.)

SPACs have become one of Wall Street's hottest investment options in 2020, with renowned figures such as hedge fund manager Bill Ackman and Palihapitiya among those to get involved.

Social Capital Hedosophia this week said it aims to raise $500 million for its next SPAC. The company represents the fourth blank-check firm to come from the partnership.

Gary Cohn, a former Donald Trump adviser and one-time COO of Goldman Sachs, moved to raise $600 million through the listing of a blank-check company last month. 

Pershing Square Capital founder Ackman debuted his record-breaking acquisition company, Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, in the same way. 

SPACs have swelled in popularity this year, with almost $40 billion raised so far from 101 listings, compared to under just $14 billion from 59 SPACs in the whole of 2019, according to data from website SPACInsider.

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