© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A replica model of Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket sits in a media area ahead of UK’s First launch at Newquay Airport in Newquay, Britain, January 8, 2023. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

By Joey Roulette

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Billionaire Richard Branson’s cash-strapped Virgin Orbit is near a deal for a $200 million investment from Texas-based venture capital investor Matthew Brown via a private share placement, according to a term sheet seen by Reuters.

A successful deal would be a major boost of confidence in the company that saw its market capitalization slump to a record low of $150 million on Tuesday from more than $3 billion two years ago when it went public through a blank-check deal.

The negotiations come after the satellite launch company said last week it was exploring strategic options and was in talks for funding after a cash crunch forced it to pause operations and furlough nearly all its staff.

The two companies are aiming to close the deal on Friday, according to the term sheet.

Virgin Orbit was not immediately available for comment.

Matthew Brown Companies did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Virgin Orbit plans to recall a small team from furlough on Thursday to work on rocket upgrades.

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