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Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson answers students' questions during a news conference at Spaceport America, near Truth or Consequences, N.M., on July 11.Susan Montoya Bryan/The Associated Press

Shares of Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. fell nearly 3 per cent on Friday after its founder and British billionaire Richard Branson sold a portion of his stake for nearly US$300-million.

Mr. Branson sold more than 10 million shares between Aug. 10 and 12, according to a regulatory filing from late Thursday.

The move comes a month after the space tourism company completed its first fully crewed test flight into space with Mr. Branson on board.

The money from the share sale will be used to support the pandemic-struck leisure and travel businesses of Mr. Branson’s Virgin Group Ltd., as well as to develop new businesses, a spokesperson for the British conglomerate said.

The latest sale leaves Mr. Branson with about 46.3 million shares worth roughly US$1.2-billion as of the stock’s last closing price. He had in April sold stock worth more than US$150-million.

Mr. Branson’s Virgin Investments Ltd. is the largest shareholder of the space tourism company and has a stake of about 22 per cent as of June, according to Refinitiv data.

The company’s shares were last down at US$25.18 on Friday.

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