Interest in space is peaking with everyone from billionaires to ordinary investors being given the chance to get in on what was described today as “nothing short of an industrial revolution under way in the space sector”.
The quote is from Will Whitehorn, erstwhile president of Virgin Galactic and now chair designate of Seraphim Space Investment Trust, which announced it would IPO on the London Stock Exchange as the world’s first listed space tech fund.
“With the likes of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson having invested heavily in their own space companies, Space Tech has to date largely been the preserve of private investors. The listing will now open up this attractive and growing sector to public market investors,” the company said.
Seraphim says it is already “the world’s No. 1 Space Tech investor”, with a portfolio of over 50 international space-related companies. The trust will acquire 19 seed assets from the existing Seraphim Space Fund, including Spire Global, a provider of satellite-based weather forecasting and AST & Science, the space-based cellular broadband network. Commercial space ventures have been drawing record levels of funding and attracting the Spac crowd. However, flawed regulation and high costs threaten to cripple the UK’s ambition to become a force in commercial space flight, according to industry executives.
Seraphim’s news comes ahead of Saturday’s auction to see which private bidder will join Jeff Bezos and his brother on a trip to the edge of space on the New Shepard spacecraft scheduled for launch by Blue Origin on July 20. The highest bid so far has been $3.5m for the 10-minute ride.
Robert Shrimsley comments that the opening of the space market could not be more timely “because, frankly, it’s getting very hard to plan a holiday at the moment, and suborbital flight looks likely to be on the green list”. More seriously, John Thornhill says such a high-profile space jaunt counts as the ultimate vanity project and one that also damages the environment.
Closer to Earth and much greener, Sylvia Pfeifer reports American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and aircraft leasing group Avolon have made preliminary commitments to buy up to 1,000 electric air taxis from Spac-bound British start-up Vertical Aerospace.
And John Gapper’s latest column looks at the new Concorde, with Boom Supersonic promising a plane that will break the sound barrier but fly on sustainable fuel.
1. Tesla unveils Model S PlaidElon Musk has unveiled a $130,000 version of the Model S (see Tech tools below) that can go from 0-60mph in under 2 seconds and reach a top speed of 200mph. Countering that good news, Chinese bloggers claim they have been threatened with legal action by Tesla for posting negative content about the US carmaker, as it battles a wave of bad publicity in the world’s largest car market.
2. Didi set for blockbuster US listingDidi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing company, has filed to go public in the US, setting the stage for one of the largest international listings of 2021. Private investors previously valued Didi at $65bn in a 2018 fundraising round and it is likely to seek a higher valuation during the public offering.
3. McDonald’s suffers Asian hackMcDonald’s has reported a data breach that exposed some personal information from customers in South Korea and Taiwan, the latest instance of a global company being targeted by a hack. The Chicago-based burger chain said on Friday that it was quickly able to identify and contain “recent unauthorised activity” on its network.
4. How the US streamers learnt to love EuropeLast year, more than 60 per cent of Netflix’s exclusive television and films were made outside the English-speaking world. Alex Barker reports for FT Magazine that this is a dizzying moment for the old world. The US media giants are gradually rebalancing the playing field for European filmmakers, which has been tilted against them since the rise of Hollywood and talking pictures in the 1930s.
5. Big Tech’s little tax implicationsAmong the least affected by a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15 per cent on profits would be big tech companies, some of which have become less vulnerable following recent changes to their tax arrangements, our analysis suggests. Tom Braithwaite comments that Amazon is being punished for its transparency in revealing profit margins for its cloud services that would bring them under the new regime.
The latest Tesla has a 390m range, goes from 0-60 in 1.99 seconds and has a top speed of 200mph. It also costs a whopping $130,000 (£119,000). Unveiled in California overnight, the Model S Plaid is fitted out the same as the newly revised Model S, with the yoke steering wheel, powerful infotainment system and more spacious rear seats, but Top Gear says a number of controversial claims are being made for the car.