Virgin America Inc., the airline backed by British billionaire Richard Branson, is reportedly considering selling all or part of the company.
The carrier is working with a financial adviser after receiving takeover interest, Bloomberg reported. No decision has been made, and Virgin America may ultimately opt against the sale, people with knowledge of the matter told the news outlet. Bloomberg did not identify the sources as the matter is private.
Shares in Virgin America (NASDAQ:VA) jumped 13.14 percent to $34.70 a share by 11:58 a.m. EDT, valuing the company at roughly $1.5 billion. The S&P 500, by contrast, was down 0.53 percent in late morning trading.
A media contact for Virgin America did not immediately respond to a call for comment.
The Burlingame, California-based airline, which flies to destinations throughout the United States and Mexico, began offering flights in 2007. The low-cost carrier is best known for its upscale aircraft interiors, including purple lighting and comfortable leather seats, plus other perks such as onboard Wi-Fi. But Virgin America didn’t report its first profit until 2013, earning $10.1 million on $1.4 billion of operating revenue.
Still, sales steadily climbed, and in November 2014 the carrier sold stock in a $353 million initial public offering. The offering’s price of $23 a share valued the airline at the time at nearly $973 million.
Branson, who has an estimated net worth of $5.2 billion, owns a 22 percent stake in Virgin America through a hedge fund and the Virgin Group, the U.K. venture capital conglomerate he founded. Branson’s investment in the airline is restricted by U.S. foreign investment rules.
The mogul last week helped the airline launch a new route from San Francisco to Denver — a leg meant to connect Silicon Valley entrepreneurs with Denver’s brimming tech scene. “The Denver area, which has been dubbed ‘Silicon Mountain’ because of its own booming innovation economy, is today the No. 1 most requested destination by the airline’s corporate clients,” Virgin America said in a March 14 press release.