Market report

Virgin Orbit files for bankruptcy | Saga in profit

Branson-dream-of-a-lifetime

Sir Richard Branson’s rocket company Virgin Orbit has filed for bankruptcy in the US after failing to secure new investment.

The California-based company halted operations weeks ago and said it would cut 85% of its 750-strong workforce.

Earlier this year, a Virgin Orbit rocket failed to complete its first-ever satellite launch from UK soil.

Virgin Orbit was established in 2017 as a spin-off from Sir Richard’s space tourism company Virgin Galactic.

It launches rockets from beneath modified Boeing 747 planes to send satellites into space.

Virgin Orbit’s boss Dan Hart said a buyer was being sought.

Sir Richard is one of a very small group of billionaires who have expanded their business empires into launching satellites and attempts to pioneer commercial space travel. The others include Jeff Bezos, founder of online retailer Amazon as well as Twitter owner and boss Elon Musk.


Saga back in profit

Holidays and insurance group Saga swung back into full-year profit on an underlying basis as revenue grew strongly on the back of a recovery in the travel sector.

Revenue for the year ended 31 January 2023 advanced 54% to £581.1m from £377.2m a year prior with underlying pre-tax profit of £21.5m compared to a loss of £6.7m in the comparative period.

He noted that the Ocean Cruise business continued to see strong customer demand and bookings for 2023/24 are on track to meet targets, while in Travel, bookings are significantly ahead of the same point last year and “that business will return to profit this year”.

Euan Sutherland, Saga’s chief executive, said despite a “particularly challenging external backdrop, Saga made progress against its strategy while achieving significant revenue growth and returning to underlying profit”.

Saga said it remains in discussions in relation to the possible sale of its Insurance Underwriting business.

The FTSE 100 fell back in late trade to close 38.48 points lower at 7,634.52.


Aegon unit sale

Pensions and protection firm Aegon has sold of its UK individual protection book, which counts thousands of wealthy investors among its clients, to Royal London.

Edinburgh-based Aegon UK said as it is focuses on its core retail and workplace platform activities.

Full story here


Rathbones and Investec

Rathbones has agreed to merge with the UK wealth business of Investec in an all-share deal valuing the latter’s business at £839 million.

Full story here


Global markets

The Reserve Bank of Australia decided to leave interest rates unchanged at its April meeting, giving a lift to Asian markets.

The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney closed up 0.1%. In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index was up 0.3%. The Shanghai Composite was up 0.3%, though the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 1.0%.

In the US, stocks closed mixed as soaring oil prices pushed blue chips firmly into the green but knocked tech stocks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 1.0% and the S&P 500 up 0.4%, but the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.3%.

Brent oil was trading at $85.38 a barrel early today against $84.52 late on Monday.



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