Investor Chamath Palihapitiya cashes out of personal Virgin Galactic stake

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March 5 (Reuters) - Venture investor Chamath Palihapitiya this week sold his remaining personal stake in Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (SPCE.N), a space tourism company he helped take public in 2019, for around $213 million, regulatory filings showed.

Palihapitiya sold 6.2 million shares, leaving him with about 15.8 million shares in Virgin Galactic, where he remains chairman. The remaining 6.6% stake in the company is through an investment firm that is in partnership with British investor Ian Osborne.

In an emailed statement through a spokesman, Palihapitiya said he would redirect the funds from the share sale toward a "large investment" focused on the fight against climate change.

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"The details of this investment will be made public in the next few months. I continue to be a significant investor in Virgin Galactic through Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings and I remain as dedicated as ever to Virgin Galactic's team, mission and prospects," Palihapitiya said in the statement.

Shares of Virgin Galactic were down around 12% at 1:18 p.m. eastern time on Friday, having fallen as much as 20.8% in the day.

Palihapitiya had said in a Twitter post on Dec. 16 that he had sold 3.8 million Virgin Galactic shares to manage his liquidity.

Representatives for Virgin Galactic did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the share sale.

Palihapitiya's special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merged with Virgin Galactic in 2019 allowing the space tourism company to go public with a $2.3 billion market capitalization, without itself launching an IPO.

He has been one of the most prolific sponsors of SPACs, merging them with a range of companies including home-selling platform Opendoor Technologies Inc.

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Reporting by Sohini Podder in Bengaluru, Jessica DiNapli and Joshua Franklin; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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