Riyadh, 26th October 2017: The Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia and Virgin Group (Virgin), have signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a partnership under which PIF intends to invest approximately $1 billion into Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit, with an option for $480 million of future additional investment in space services.
The intention to invest was agreed by HRH Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Deputy Prime Minister, Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs and of the PIF, and Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group. The strategic guidance for the partnership was provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning.
PIF and Virgin partnership creates a strong platform to enhance the role of innovative technology within the Kingdom’s blueprint for a modern, diversified economy, which is a central part of Vision 2030.
HRH Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud, said: “This partnership with Virgin Group reflects the great strides the Kingdom is making towards our vision for a diversified, knowledge-based economy. The future of Saudi Arabia is one of innovation, as showcased at this week’s Future Investment Initiative, and it’s through partnerships with organizations like Virgin Group that we will make active contributions to those sectors and technologies that are driving progress on a global scale.”
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as our new partners in Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit under the leadership of His Royal Highness Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud. We are now just months away from Virgin Galactic going into space with people on board and Virgin Orbit going into orbit and placing satellites around the Earth. This investment will enable us to develop the next generation of satellite launches and accelerate our programme for point to point supersonic space travel.”
The MoU was signed by H.E. Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, Managing Director of PIF, and Patrick McCall, Senior Managing Director of the Virgin Group, during the Future Investment Initiative (FII) taking place in Riyadh this week.
The intended investment will, subject to regulatory approval, result in PIF taking a significant stake in Virgin Galactic, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Orbit, alongside Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments. This will support the companies’ human spaceflight plans and accelerate Virgin Orbit’s manufacturing and operational capabilities. It will also aid the development of next generation low cost small satellite launch systems and commercial supersonic point-to-point travel capabilities; and includes the possibility to develop a space centric entertainment industry in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Companies and PIF will cooperate to execute on a mutually agreed roadmap for the KSA’s space industry consistent with applicable laws, including U.S. export controls.
In March 2015, the Council of Ministers issued a decree to transfer oversight of the Public Investment Fund to the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA). As part of this process, a new Board was appointed, chaired by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud.
To help achieve Saudi Arabia’s vision of a sustainable, diversified economy, the Board of Directors has taken several steps to clearly define the Public Investment Fund’s vision, objectives and strategy in line with Saudi Vision 2030.
The Public Investment Fund is developing a portfolio of high quality domestic and international investments, diversified across sectors, geographies and asset classes. Working alongside global strategic partners and renowned investment managers, PIF acts as the Kingdom’s main investment arm to deliver a strategy focused on achieving attractive financial returns and long-term value for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Public Investment Fund aims to be a global investment powerhouse and the world’s most impactful investor, enabling the creation of new sectors and opportunities that will shape the future global economy, while driving the economic transformation of Saudi Arabia.
More information about PIF can be found at: www.pif.gov.sa
More information about the Future Investment Initiative by PIF can be found at: http://futureinvestmentinitiative.com
Media Contact: media@pif.gov.sa
Virgin is a leading international investment group and one of the world’s most recognised and respected brands. Conceived in 1970 by Sir Richard Branson, the Virgin Group has gone on to grow successful businesses in sectors including mobile telephony, travel & transportation, financial services, leisure & entertainment and health & wellness.
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Aabar is a diversified investment company in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates with global interests across various sectors including real estate development, construction, financial services, food, commodities, automotive and aerospace.
More information about Aabar can be found at: https://www.mubadala.com/en/what-we-do/capital-investments/aabar-investments-pjs
Virgin Galactic is the world’s first commercial spaceline. Founded by Sir Richard Branson and owned by Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS, Virgin Galactic is transforming access to space to change the world for good.  The company aims to offer a reliable, affordable, and frequent spaceflight service, both for private individuals and the science research community. To meet these objectives, Virgin Galactic will be operating its reusable SpaceShipTwo space launch system, capable of carrying people and science experiments. The number of customers who have paid to reserve places in order to experience space for themselves on SpaceShipTwo, or to conduct research, is already greater than the total number of humans who have been to space throughout history. SpaceShipTwo and its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, are manufactured and tested in Mojave, California by Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing wing, The Spaceship Company. Commercial operations will be based in New Mexico at Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose built commercial spaceport. To learn more, visit virgingalactic.com
Virgin Orbit provides dedicated, responsive, and affordable launch services for small satellites. Virgin Orbit is developing LauncherOne, a flexible launch service for commercial and government-built satellites. LauncherOne rockets are designed and manufactured in Long Beach, California, and will be air-launched from a dedicated 747-400 carrier aircraft capable of operating from many locations in order to best serve each customer’s needs. Virgin Orbit’s systems are currently in an advanced stage of testing, with initial orbital launches expected soon. To learn more or to apply to join Virgin Orbit’s talented and growing team, visit virginorbit.com
The Spaceship Company is Virgin Galactic’s aerospace-system manufacturing organization. Headquartered in Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California, it is building and testing a fleet of WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft and SpaceShipTwo reusable spaceships that, together, form Virgin Galactic’s human spaceflight system. Like many Virgin companies across the world, its team of over 430 talented and dedicated engineers, technicians and professionals are drawn together by a willingness to disrupt and challenge the status quo and deliver innovative aerospace solutions to our c
ustomers’ needs. The Spaceship Company has a straightforward name: as you would expect, we build spaceships. But we also do much more. The Spaceship Company’s extensive capabilities encompass preliminary vehicle design and analysis, manufacturing, ground testing, flight testing and post-delivery support. The Spaceship Company team is uniquely positioned to offer end-to-end aerospace development with thousands of years of cumulative experience in design, manufacturing, and testing.