US inquiry into sale of Virgin Galactic stake to Arab investor
The United States has launched a national security investigation into the proposed sale of a stake in Sir Richard Bransonâ€™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 Richardâ€™s sale of a 32 per cent stake in Galactic to Aabar Investments for $280 million (Â£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 Richardâ€™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 Â£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 â€œabsolute confidence that the deal would be completed as billedâ€. He declined to comment further.
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