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Virgin Orbit enters $17 million ‘stalking horse’ bid to sell aircraft assets

(Reuters) -Bankrupt satellite launch company Virgin Orbit said on Tuesday it entered into a “stalking horse” agreement with Stratolaunch to sell mainly its aircraft assets, including the “Cosmic Girl” carrier aircraft, for $17 million in cash.

A stalking horse bid is used as a starting bid or minimally accepted offer that other interested bidders must surpass if they want to buy the asset or company.

In a court filing, Virgin Orbit said the bid does not prevent going concern bidders from making bids for all its assets, including the ones Stratolaunch is bidding for.

The company said the bankruptcy marketing process has also generated considerable interest in its assets other than carrier aircraft. The deadline to submit bids for its assets is 12 p.m. ET (1600 GMT) on May 19.

Virgin Orbit, founded by billionaire Richard Branson, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April after the company struggled to secure long-term funding following a failed satellite launch in January.

The company, which was spun off from space tourism firm Virgin Galactic in 2017, sends satellites into orbit using rockets launched from a modified Boeing 747.

Stratolaunch was founded by late billionaire and Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen and has conducted several tests of its aircraft designed to carry air-launch-to-orbit rockets and hypersonic vehicles.

(Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill and Gerry Doyle)


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