March 15 (Reuters) – Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit ( VORB.O ) said on Wednesday it was suspending all operations from March 16, and a source familiar with the matter told Reuters the satellite launch firm also laid off nearly all its employees.
CEO Dan Hart told staff at a meeting that the leave was intended to buy Virgin Orbit time to finalize a new investment plan to help pull the company out of its financial woes, according to the source who attended the meeting.
Virgin Orbit shares fell 18.8% to 82 cents in extended trading.
The duration of the leave was unclear, but Hart said he would give employees an update by the middle of next week on when they could return, the source said.
In a statement to Reuters, the company confirmed the layoff, but did not provide details about the leave.
CNBC first reported the news.
Last month, Virgin Orbit said it was investigating the failure of its January mission to deploy nine small satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) from the coastal town of Newquay in southwest England. The mission failure was a major blow to the company and compounded its financial struggles.
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“On the ops side, our study is almost complete and our next production rocket with the necessary modification is in the final stages of integration and testing,” the company said on Wednesday.
Reporting by Eva Mathews in Bengaluru and Joey Roulette; Editing by Devika Syamnath
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