The Real Deal Miami

Virgin Trains USA seeks to raise up to $619M in IPO as it plans expansion

Company, planning new stops in Florida, has spurred development near its SoFla stations
By Keith Larsen | January 30, 2019 05:00PM

Richard Branson and the Brightline

Virgin Trains USA seeks to raise up to $619 million in an initial public offering as the high-speed rail company is planning to add stops in Orlando and Tampa Bay.

Virgin Trains USA, formerly known as Brightline, expects its initial stock price to be between $17 and $19 per share. It plans to be traded on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol VTUS, according to a filing on Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Virgin Trains is backed by Fortress Investment Group, a private equity firm.

The company currently operates stops between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, and is planning to add stops in Orlando and Tampa Bay in coming years.

Its South Florida stations have spurred nearby development and investment, including surrounding its MiamiCentral, a mixed-use train station with office, retail and residential components. Earlier this month, an investment group closed on a portfolio of apartments about three blocks away in Overtown, betting on the properties’ proximity to MiamiCentral and the area’s Opportunity Zone status.

Virgin Trains also reported its financials and its ridership in its prospectus filed with the SEC. The company operated at a loss of $87.1 million during the first nine months of 2018, on $5.23 million in revenue. The company reported a big uptick in ridership, jumping 50 percent to 239,000 passengers in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to the previous quarter.

Last September, Virgin Trains announced plans to acquire DesertXpress Enterprises for about $120 million that will run from Las Vegas to the Los Angeles area.

In November, Brightline announced Richard Branson’s Virgin Group will provide a minority investment and form a strategic partnership with the high-speed passenger rail company.

Virgin Trains USA’s parent company, Florida East Coast Industries, also owns real estate near its stations, including the 9-acre MiamiCentral.