U.S. Launches National Security Investigation of Virgin Galactic-Aabar Deal

Sir Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic pilots, staffers and investors. To his right is Mohamed Badawy Al-Husseiny, CEO of Aabar, which made a $280 million in Virgin Galactic.
Sir Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic pilots, staffers and investors. To his right is Mohamed Badawy Al-Husseiny, CEO of Aabar, which made a $280 million in Virgin Galactic.

US inquiry into sale of Virgin Galactic stake to Arab investor
The Times

The United States has launched a national security investigation into the proposed sale of a stake in Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space company to Arab investors.

The Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS) is understood to have begun a review of Sir Richard’s sale of a 32 per cent stake in Galactic to Aabar Investments for $280 million (£170 million). The move has caused alarm in banking circles in Abu Dhabi and could raise tensions between the US and the Gulf.

Bank insiders told The Times that there was a growing concern locally that the deal could be amended or even blocked because Aabar, Sir Richard’s proposed partner, is ultimately controlled by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family. Skeikh Mansour, a half-brother of the ruler of Abu Dhabi, also bought Manchester City Football Club last year for £200 million.

CFIUS, part of the US Treasury Department, reviews all acquisitions by foreigners in companies deemed important to national security. The committee, chaired by the Secretary of Treasury, includes representatives of Government departments including Defence and Homeland Security….

Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, said that he had “absolute confidence that the deal would be completed as billed”. He declined to comment further.

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