Virgin Galactic Top Lawyer Leaving as Company Defends SPAC Suit

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc., a industrial spaceflight enterprise managed by billionaire Richard Branson, is dropping its main authorized officer as it fights a lawsuit about a merger with a distinctive goal acquisition business.

Michelle Kley will resign July 19, Virgin Galactic reported in a securities filing. She joins Volta Inc., an operator of electric motor vehicle charging stations, as authorized main and company secretary on July 20, Volta explained in a statement.

Kley’s departure arrives as Virgin Galactic defends a lawsuit an trader submitted last 12 months above alleged accounting discrepancies relevant to the company’s 2019 merger with a SPAC termed Social Cash Hedosophia Holdings Corp.

The lawsuit accused Branson of reaping a $300 million windfall by unloading Virgin Galactic shares at the peak of their value.

A Virgin Galactic spokeswoman confirmed that the business has started its research for a new top law firm.

Kley joins Volta along with William Cooper III, a cash marketplaces and energy spouse at Sidley Austin, who will serve as deputy general counsel and assistant corporate secretary for the enterprise.

Volta spokeswoman Sabrina Strauss reported the two lawyers will function with the company’s interim typical counsel Steven Schnitzer, who was appointed last month subsequent the resignation of its previous authorized main, James DeGraw.

Schnitzer will little by little transform about his responsibilities to Kley and Cooper, Strauss explained.

Volta went general public past 12 months by combining with a SPAC. In March, Volta noticed two leading executives resign immediately after the San Francisco-centered firm postponed disclosing quarterly earnings.

Virgin Role

Kley experienced joined Virgin Galactic in 2019 right after serving as authorized main for Maxar Systems Inc., a Westminster, Colo.-based mostly place know-how and satellite business.

She took around from Vanessa Chandler, who very last year grew to become the top rated law firm for Vivino Inc., a startup wine market that grew its valuation through the pandemic.

Kley received extra than $1.6 million in total payment from Virgin Galactic very last calendar year, including $1 million in stock awards and about $608,000 in dollars, according to the company’s most current proxy assertion. The package deal grew from the roughly $511,400 that Kley gained in 2020.

She also owns $1 million in Virgin Galactic inventory, in accordance to Bloomberg info. Securities filings display that Kley offered off $760,500 in business inventory last calendar year.

Virgin SPACS

Virgin Galactic a year back became the initial firm to consider travellers, which include Branson, to the edge of area on its SpaceShipTwo rocket aircraft termed Unity. The journey came significantly less than two months ahead of a equivalent voyage by rival Blue Origin LLC backed by Amazon.com Inc. billionaire Jeff Bezos.

Virgin Galactic’s SPAC tie-up with Social Capital Hedosophia had taken the area enterprise general public. Branson has used SPACs to reshape his organization empire, as roughly a quarter of his $5.7 billion fortune is invested in corporations that detailed by way of these vehicles in the final a few decades, Bloomberg Information documented.

Virgin Orbit Holdings Inc., a satellite launch organization in which Branson also owns a stake, went public previous year in a SPAC offer backed by the Boeing Co.

Previous Facebook Inc. government Chamath Palihapitiya, a businessman recognised as the “SPAC King” who backed the Social Money Hedosophia enterprise, bought off $213 million in Virgin Galactic shares last 12 months, nearly two months in advance of the company amended its 2020 financial assertion.

Palihapitiya, who stepped down in February as Virgin Galactic’s chairman, was sued in March by a Virgin Galactic shareholder saying that he made use of his insider place to income from the company’s artificially inflated inventory price.

Latham & Watkins and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom recommended Virgin Galactic and Social Capital Hedosophia, respectively, on their 2019 mix.

The Virgin Galactic merger spurred identical transactions in the place market, like at Momentus Inc., a space infrastructure enterprise that last yr hired previous Section of Defense normal counsel Paul Ney to be its best attorney.

Momentus was sued last thirty day period by buyers in excess of its 2021 mix with a blank test organization that served consider it general public.

Lawful Shuffle

Virgin Galactic isn’t the only Branson-owned entity to lately change legal chiefs.

Thayer Thompson, a previous prime lawyer at Virgin Resorts who spent far more than a ten years doing the job for Branson’s Virgin Team Holdings Ltd., still left last year. Virgin Motels employed former Sidley counsel Elizabeth Stone as its new general counsel in April.

Jeri Rouse Looney, a former senior authorized director at Virgin Galactic, left the enterprise past calendar year to grow to be standard counsel for Skyryse Inc., an El Segundo, Calif.-dependent aviation engineering startup.

In January, Virgin Galactic hired California law firm Talina Cole to be its director of personnel relations. Cole arrived aboard a yr soon after Atlanta law firm Aaron Futch joined the firm, which has operations in Southern California and New Mexico, as a senior director for legal, business, and regulatory.

Maria Flores

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