A Vietnamese electric carmaker is now worth more than Volkswagen and Ford

CNN BLUE – One of Vietnam’s biggest automakers has made a big splash on its entry to Wall Street, pushing its market capitalization above that of industry giants such as Volkswagen and Ford.

VinFast, an electric vehicle maker, enjoyed a red-hot debut in New York on Tuesday after merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Black Spade Acquisition Co.

Shares of the newly combined company skyrocketed 270% on the Nasdaq on their first day of trade. They opened at $22, more than double the initial price of $10, and closed at $37 apiece.

The surge propelled VinFast’s market cap above $85 billion. That’s more than Volkswagen (VLKAF) or Ford (F), which are valued at 63.9 billion euros ($69.7 billion) and $48 billion, respectively, according to Refinitiv.

The eye-popping rally, however, was based on thin trade. VinFast is still 99% owned by Vietnam’s richest man, Pham Nhat Vuong, through shares held by his other company Vingroup and other business entities, according to a regulatory filing.

VinFast began trading on the Nasdaq Tuesday.

Vuong, the chairman of both Vingroup and VinFast, saw his own wealth soar by approximately $39 billion on Tuesday as shares of the carmaker shot up, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index. He is now estimated to be worth about $44.3 billion.

VinFast was founded in 2017 as a subsidiary of Vingroup, one of Vietnam’s largest conglomerates. The firm makes electric SUVs, scooters and buses, which are sold in Vietnam and North America.

Its performance Tuesday makes VinFast the largest US-listed Vietnamese company by market cap, it said.

In a statement, CEO Thuy Le said: “It is our hope that VinFast’s listing will inspire and unleash greater opportunities for Vietnamese brands to participate in the global market.”

Chilly US reception

So far, the company has released four electric vehicle models and delivered roughly 19,000 vehicles, according to its prospectus. For comparison, Volkswagen sold 4.4 million vehicles just in the first six months of 2023, more than 321,000 of which were electric.

VinFast is a household name in Vietnam, where its cars have become bestsellers and have access to an extensive charging network across more than 60 cities and provinces.

But the Vietnamese newcomer has had less success in the United States, where it started delivering to customers earlier this year.

In recent months, VinFast has been hit by poor reviews about its electric SUV, the VF 8, after letting US reporters test drive the vehicle.

VinFast electric vehicles parked in Los Angeles on March 1

Several headlines have been particularly blunt, with one by industry outlet Road & Track calling the vehicle “simply unacceptable.” Another by MotorTrend read: “Return to sender.”

Other reviews were more forgiving. One reminded readers that it was the company’s first effort at a car for the US market. Another praised the power delivery from the SUV’s electric motors.

In a blog post earlier this week, VinFast said it has made software improvements based on feedback “from vehicle owners and the automotive reviewer community.”

VinFast has made no secret of its global ambitions. In July, it broke ground on a new factory in North Carolina, which it hopes to use as a base for US sales. The company says the facility may eventually reach capacity of 150,000 vehicles a year.

The company has also teased a Europe launch, telling shareholders it will enter the region “soon.”

In her statement Tuesday, Le suggested the company will use the new proceeds raised to fuel its expansion, saying its listing “unlocks access to the capital markets and important avenues for future development.”

VinFast is not profitable yet. It reported a loss of $1.4 billion for the nine months through last September. It also carried about $2.5 billion in debt as of the end of September, according to a regulatory filing.

— Peter Valdes-Dapena contributed to this article.

Source: CNN

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