July 15, 2020 / 8:34 PM / a month ago

Virgin Galactic ropes in Disney veteran as CEO

FILE PHOTO: Virgin Galactic (SPCE) logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as the company begins public trading in New York, U.S., October 28, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (SPCE.N) on Wednesday named Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) executive Michael Colglazier as its new chief executive officer, sending its shares up 4.3% in extended trade.

Colglazier, who was previously president and managing director at Disney Parks International, will replace George Whitesides, who joined the company in 2010 as its first CEO.

Virgin Galactic said Whitesides will step down from its board and take over as chief space officer. Both appointments are effective from July 20.

The move comes after Virgin Galactic in June announced it had successfully completed the second SpaceShipTwo test flight from Spaceport America, as the company prepares for commercial service.

The space tourism company, which competes with billionaire-backed ventures such as Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) Blue Origin, offers zero-gravity experiences to customers and has long-term point-to-point travel plans to quickly transport passengers from city to city at near-space altitudes.

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni and Ramakrishnan M.

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