Virgin Orbit to Lay Off About 85 Percent of Staff

By Reuters
March 31, 2023Business News

Rocket maker Virgin Orbit Holdings on Thursday said it was laying off about 85 percent of staff because it had not been able to raise new investment.

Shares of the company, which is controlled by Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, fell 38 percent in after hours trade.

About 675 employees will lose their jobs, and the company expects to take related charges of about $15 million, Virgin Orbit said in a regulatory filing. The move was the result of “the company’s inability to secure meaningful funding,” the filing said.

Virgin Orbit went public in 2021 through a blank-check deal, where it raised $255 million less than expected. In addition to the recent failure to raise funds, the January failure of a rocket launch increased pressure on the company.

Since November, Branson’s Virgin Group has provided $50 million in financing to the satellite launch company in debt secured against its equipment and other assets in the event of a bankruptcy, according to securities filings.

Virgin Orbit furloughed nearly all its 750 employees on March 15 in what a spokesperson called an “operational pause,” while the company sought a financial lifeline that would allow it to focus on rocket design improvement. The company expects layoffs to be substantially complete by April 3.

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