Home >News >World >Richard Branson richer than ever from Reddit traders and space plans

Richard Branson is expected to fly into space this year, but his fortune has already hit the stratosphere.

The billionaire has added about $2 billion to his wealth since the start of January as shares in Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. have surged to a peak after a succession of positive events.

First there was Cathie Wood’s plan for an exchange-traded fund tracking space-focused companies. Then Virgin Galactic was drawn into the Reddit-fueled frenzy of retail investors pouring into shorted stocks. And finally the news on Monday that the venture would resume test flights of its rocket-powered spaceplane. The stock has already more than doubled this year.

Branson, whose Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. had to be rescued from the brink of collapse last year, now has a record net worth of $7.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His stake in Virgin Galactic makes up almost half of his fortune. Shares in the Las Cruces, New Mexico-based company were up 10% at 7:54 a.m. in early trading in New York, while many stocks popular with Reddit traders -- including GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. -- were tumbling.

Space tourism is one of the latest bets by Branson, 70, a serial creator of companies ranging from record labels to soft drinks. The Virgin brand he founded as a mail-order retailer in 1970 is now linked to more than 40 businesses worldwide, including British bank Virgin Money UK Plc.

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