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Vietnam’s wealthiest tycoon becomes Asia’s fifth richest person as VinFast surges on Nasdaq debut

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Billionaire Pham Nhat Vuong, Vietnam’s wealthiest man, joined the top ranks of Asia’s richest after shares of his electric vehicle maker VinFast Auto surged 255% on the company’s Nasdaq debut, adding a whopping $39 billion to his net worth.

The stock jumped more than threefold to close at $37.06 on its first trading day, off an intraday high of $38.77. The strong market debut boosted the net worth of Vuong, VinFast’s controlling shareholder, to $44.5 billion. Vuong, who is also chairman of parent Vingroup, is now Asia’s fifth richest person, according to Forbes’ data. Vuong other interests include real estate, retail, consumer electronics and healthcare through Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest conglomerate by market value.

VinFast started trading in New York on Tuesday through a backdoor listing by merging with Black Spade Acquisition Co., a special purpose acquisition company or SPAC founded by casino tycoon Lawrence Ho. The deal initially valued VinFast at $23 billion.

“With this listing we now have more access to capital to accelerate our mission as we undertake an international expansion and continue to introduce new products to make EVs more accessible to everyone,” Thuy Le, global CEO of VinFast said after ringing the opening bell on Nasdaq.

The company’s market value quadrupled to $85 billion, surpassing General Motors’ $46 billion and Ford’s $48 billion, while trailing behind U.S. EV giant Tesla’s market cap of $739 billion and Chinese rival BYD’s $93 billion.

Despite its spectacular debut, it remains to be seen whether the rally in VinFast can be sustained given the company’s small free float. Vuong controls 99% of the company through direct and indirect shareholdings, primarily through his publicly traded flagship Vingroup and other private holdings companies, according to regulatory filings.

From its manufacturing base in the port city of Hai Phong, about 120 kilometers east of Hanoi, VinFast can produce as much as 300,000 cars annually. The company started shipping its vehicles to the U.S. in November to directly challenge Tesla in its home markets. Shipments to Canada and Europe are expected later this year.

VinFast is building a factory in North Carolina that can produce about 150,000 cars annually by 2025. The company remains in the red even as it accelerates its international expansion, posting a wider net loss of 14.1 trillion dong ($588 million) in the first quarter of this year, compared to a loss of 9.7 trillion dong a year ago, according to its listing prospectus. In May, it recalled some vehicles due to a software glitch that U.S. authorities said may increase the risk of a crash.

By Jonathan Burgos – Forbes – August 15, 2023

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