Manchester City football clubowner Sheikh Mansour has added space travel to his diverse portfolio of businesses by buying 32 per cent of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
The $280m deal, which values the company at $900m, comes despite the fact that the “space tourism” venture has yet to start operations.
The investment has been made through the Abu Dhabi Sheikh’s Aabar Investments vehicle. While Manchester City have made more news for spending money than making it, the Sheikh made a fortune on investing in Barclays in the midst of the banking crisis and recently netted a profit of £1.5bn. The investment helped the bank to steer clear of a UK Government bailout.
As a result of the deal Aabar has committed $100m to fund a satellite launch capability, subject to the development of a full business plan. It will also gain exclusive regional rights, subject to regulatory clearances, to host Virgin Galactic tourism and scientific research space flights. Aabar has plans to build spaceport facilities in Abu Dhabi.