Virgin Orbit extends worker furlough, continues funding talks -CEO
By Joey Roulette
March 27 (Reuters) -Billionaire Richard Branson's cash-strapped Virgin Orbit Holdings VORB.O will extend an unpaid furlough for most of its employees as talks seeking new funding continue, the company's chief executive said in an email to employees on Monday.
"Our investment discussions have been very dynamic over the past few days, they are ongoing, and not yet at a stage where we can provide a fulsome update," Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart wrote in the email seen by Reuters.
Virgin Orbit declined further comment.
Reuters reported last week that Texas-based Matthew Brown had been in talks to invest $200 million in the company. Those talks have collapsed, said two people familiar with the discussions who asked not to be identified. Brown declined to comment on Monday.
Virgin Orbit, teetering on bankruptcy after a January rocket failure and struggles to raise funds, furloughed nearly all its 750 employees on March 15 while it sought a financial lifeline that would allow it to focus on upgrading its launch business.
The rocket maker was spun out of Branson's space tourism firm Virgin Galactic in 2017. Branson owns a controlling stake of Virgin Orbit of roughly 75%.
A small group of employees were called back to work last week, while the others were to remain furloughed until at least Monday when Hart had been expected to provide an update in a company-wide virtual meeting.
"In order that we may provide you with meaningful details we have delayed the all-hands scheduled for today," Hart said in the email, which employees received minutes before the expected meeting was to begin. Hart added he expects a new company-wide meeting will take place "no later than Thursday."
Virgin Orbit shares were down 12% in after-hours trading Monday after closing down 26 cents, or 33%, at 54 cents a share.
Reporting by Joey Roulette, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien
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