Virgin Trains USA announces initial public offering of up to $619 million to support Brightline expansion

More than 32.5 million shares of stock are being offered for $17 to $19 a share.
Brightline, soon to be known as Virgin Trains USA, proposes to build a $1.7 billion passenger train line from Orlando to Tampa. [RICHARD DANIELSON | Times (2018)]
Brightline, soon to be known as Virgin Trains USA, proposes to build a $1.7 billion passenger train line from Orlando to Tampa. [RICHARD DANIELSON | Times (2018)]
Published January 30
Updated January 30

Virgin Trains USA, the Sir Richard Branson-backed company that has partnered with Florida's Brightline passenger train, on Wednesday announced an initial public offering of stock to raise up to $619 million.

Altogether, Virgin Trains is offering to sell more than 32.5 million shares of stock at $17 to $19 per share. The shares will be listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol VTUS.

Brightline, which is soon expected to take on the Virgin Trains name, currently runs a passenger train between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with plans to expand north to Orlando at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion. It also has proposed a $1.7 billion link from Orlando to Tampa, with a possible stop near Disney's theme parks, and is negotiating with the Florida Department of Transportation and the Central Florida Expressway Authority for right of way along or in the medians of Interstate 4 and State Road 417.

A key part of Brightline's business model is building high-end development around its stations, and it is looking to put a station with adjacent real estate for commercial development in or near downtown Tampa.

Part of the money raised through this initial public offering is expected to pay for or reimburse costs associated with the existing Miami to West Palm Beach segment of Brightline's system, which so far has cost about $2 billion. The company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it expects to raise additional debt and equity capital to pay for future development activities that include the expansion to Tampa, which it hopes would go into service in 2021 with an estimated average fare of $35 per passenger.

In addition, Virgin Trains is looking to create a $3.6 billion rail link from southern California to Las Vegas.

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Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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