After years of speculation, U.S. airline Virgin America has filed the necessary paperwork to get started on its initial public offering. According to the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the airline aims to raise $115 million, although that is essentially a placeholder number for now.
Early details on Virgin America’s IPO
Billionaire Richard Branson is a minority shareholder, with 22% of Virgin Airlines, although the company shares the Virgin brand he has developed for his other companies. U.S. regulations restrict how much of a company foreign shareholders are allowed to hold in domestic airlines to less than 25%. Cyrus Capital Partners LP, some holding companies and employees will be selling shares in the IPO. According to Reuters, the company’s biggest shareholder is VAI Partners, holding a 76.1% stake. Cyrus Capital controls VAI Partners.
The airline has not yet determined how many shares it will offer or how much it will charge for those shares. It also has not indicated what ticker symbol it intends to use or which stock exchange on which it will list. Barclays PLC (NYSE:BCS) (LON:BARC) and Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:DB) (ETR:DBK) (FRA:DB)will handle the IPO. As underwriters, they will be able to purchase additional shares, although Virgin Airlines has not yet decided how many more shares. They expect to deliver the airlines’ shares to buyers by the end of this year.
Virgin Airlines becomes profitable
Virgin Airlines has been in existence since 2007 and considering having an IPO for the last couple of years. However, it didn’t post its first yearly profit until last year. The airline posted $1.4 billion in operating revenue and earnings of $10.1 million, according to The New York Times. CEO David Cush said last year that an IPO would be possible if the company had earnings growth for several quarters in a row, reports Bloomberg. In the first quarter of this year, Virgin Airlines reported a net loss.
Currently the airline offers flights to 22 different cities in the U.S. and Mexico, with San Francisco and Los Angeles serving as the hub for most of its flights. For the last two years, researchers found that Virgin America ranked at the top of their annual Airline Quality Rating performance study. The company said its costs per mile of available seat were one of the lowest of all airlines in the U.S. last year.