Vinfast EV cars are seen during a car shipment to the U.S. in Haiphong city, Vietnam, November 25, 2022.
Vinfast EV cars are seen during a car shipment to the U.S. in Haiphong city, Vietnam, November 25, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

Hanoi | Singapore: VinFast's shares soared in thin trading in their Nasdaq debut on Tuesday following the Vietnamese electric vehicle (EV) maker's $23 billion backdoor listing as the startup said it was likely to raise money from global investors within 18 months.

The stock opened at $22, more than double the $10 per share agreed with VinFast's SPAC partner Black Spade Acquisition that had valued VinFast at $23 billion.

Value rises

It surged further during the session, ending at $37.06 and valuing the EV maker, which has not posted a profit, at $85 billion, more than Ford's market capitalisation at $48 billion and General Motors' $46 billion stock market value.

About $185 million worth of the company's shares were exchanged, according to Refinitiv data.

The merger with the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) gave Vinfast a listing in a market where founder Pham Nhat Vuong hopes to take on industry leader Tesla with a $4 billion factory under construction and a new approach to sales to bring in dealers.

Vietnam's richest man, Vuong is the beneficial owner of 99 per cent of VinFast's 2.3 billion ordinary shares after the merger through his flagship company and affiliates.

Strategic investors

"We have a number of strategic investors and institutional investors lined up. We expect to formulate some kind of capital raising over the next 18 months, for sure," VinFast Chief Financial Officer David Mansfield told Reuters.

VinFast has shipped nearly 3,000 vehicles to North America since late last year, but initial sales have been slow. S&P Global Mobility says that only 137 Vinfast EVs had been registered in the United States through June.

"The Street has all its eyes on the leaders in this next frontier with many winners, along with Tesla, in this green EV tidal wave playing out for the coming years," Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said.

VinFast CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy said the company was changing its distribution model, which had been based on Tesla's direct-to-consumer approach, and expected to partner with dealers in overseas markets.

"We are switching to a hybrid model where we have our own showrooms, as well as talking to dealers to open dealer showrooms," Thuy said in an interview with Reuters.

VinFast was formed as a unit of Vietnam's largest conglomerate Vingroup. Vuong, Vingroup and affiliates had invested $9.3 billion in the EV maker, according to a June filing. Vuong pledged $2.5 billion in April to bolster the EV maker, including $1 billion from his personal fortune.

VinFast's first quarter revenue dropped 49 per cent from the previous year, and it posted a net loss of $598 million. In 2022, the company posted a loss of $2.1 billion.

Vinfast US plant

It has started construction on a $4 billion plant in North Carolina.

VinFast is entering the American and European markets at a time when EV pricing is under pressure, led by market leader Tesla and a range of Chinese companies.

VinFast's VF8 starts at $46,000 in California, compared with $47,740 for the Tesla Model Y before accounting for a $7,500 federal tax credit on the Tesla.

Thuy said VinFast was moving toward "cost reduction in the future."

Thuy said VinFast expected to bring its larger VF9 EV to the U.S. market toward the end of the year and was in the process of getting its cars certified by Europe's safety regulator.