Virgin Group has given up majority control of Virgin Galactic, selling $366 million worth of shares in the space travel brand.

The group, owned by Sir Richard Branson, has sold 25 million shares, leaving it with a 40% stake in the business. It remains the largest single shareholder but no longer holds majority control.

In a statement, Virgin Group said it intended to use the net proceeds of the sale to “support its portfolio of global leisure holiday and travel businesses that continue to be affected by the unprecedented impact of Covid-19”.

It continues: “In March, Virgin stated its intention to invest $250 million in supporting its core companies that required Covid-19 related funding. The level of planned support has increased. The net proceeds of sale will be applied in meeting these commitments”.

According to the Financial Times, the group’s airlines are expected to receive the lion’s share of the proceeds. Virgin Atlantic has been in talks with at least a dozen investors in recent weeks and also approached the UK government for financial support in a bid to increase liquidity and keep the airline afloat.

At the beginning of this month, Virgin Atlantic announced it would cut 3,150 jobs, move its operations from Gatwick Airport and rebrand Virgin Holidays.

Just last week the airline said government plans on quarantine arrivals would delay its return to flying until August, a month later than it had previously intended.

Virgin Australia was placed into administration in April after its request for government support was rejected by the Australian government.

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