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Boost for Virgin Galactic as Abu Dhabi family invests

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family, has invested $280 million into Virgin Galactic, the space venture of entrepreneur Richard Branson.
 
The deal sees Aabar, the investment vehicle used by Sheikh Mansour, take a 32% share in Galactic in exchange for the $280 million and a contribution of $100 million towards developing satellites. Virgin also hopes to expand operations to Abu Dhabi, where aerospace has been identified as a key industry for the future of the country.
 
Aabar chairman Khadem Al Qubaisi said: "Aabar's stake in Virgin Galactic will open a new avenue of opportunity for Abu Dhabi in this unique and dynamic business. The significant partnership not only falls in line with Abu Dhabi's larger plans to inculcate technology research and science at a grassroots level but also complements its aim to be the international tourism capital of the region."
 
Galactic is the world's first commercial space programme, launched by Branson in 2004, in an attempt to make space travel more accessible. It already has more than 300 people signed up for the first flights, each costing $200,000 (click here to read our feature on Virgin Galactic)
 
This is latest lifestyle investment by Sheikh Mansour, who was the principal investor in the £200 million takeover of English football club Manchester City in 2008. He is also the half brother of Sheikh Khalifa, Abu Dhabi's ruler, and chairman of the International Petroleum Investment Company, which oversees foreign investments in oil and chemicals in Abu Dhabi.

Picture - Sir Richard Branson and Aabar CEO Mohamed Badawy Al-Husseiny

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