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Virgin America IPO to value airline at about $1 billion-Reuters

(Reuters) – Virgin America Inc [IPO-VA.O], a low-cost airline partly owned by Richard Branson, said its initial public offering is expected to be priced at $21-$24 per share, valuing the company at about $1.04 billion at the top end of the range.

The company is selling 13.1 million of the 13.3 million shares in the offering, which is expected to raise up to $320 million.

Virgin America, known for mood lighting and wi-fi and comfortable leather seats even in economy class, offers flights to 22 cities in the United States and Mexico, using a fleet of 53 Airbus A320 aircraft.

Branson, whose investment in the airline is restricted by U.S. foreign investment rules, owns a 22 percent stake in it through the Virgin Group and a hedge fund.
Virgin America’s biggest shareholder is VAI Partners, which holds a 76.1 percent stake. VAI is controlled by hedge fund Cyrus Capital Partners.

Virgin America said on Monday its net income rose to $41.6 million in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from $33.5 million a year earlier. Total operating revenue rose 4.7 percent to $405.5 million.

Most of Virgin America’s flights operate to and from its focus cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Virgin America started a new service from New York’s busy LaGuardia Airport last week.

Barclays and Deutsche Bank Securities are the lead underwriters to the offering, Virgin America said in a regulatory filing.