By Phuong Nguyen, Francesco Guarascio and Anshuman Daga
HANOI (Reuters) – Shares in Vietnamese electric vehicle maker VinFast surged on their Nasdaq debut on Tuesday after the company closed its merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) and signalled it was open to raising additional capital.
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.
The deal did not raise new capital for the Vietnamese EV startup, but VinFast Chief Financial Officer David Mansfield said the company was in contact with investors and expected to raise additional funding.
“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,” he told Reuters.
“We don’t need more equity capital but if an opportunity is presented, we’ll obviously take advantage of that while we can.”
VinFast has shipped nearly 3,000 vehicles to North America 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.
VinFast CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy said the company would change 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.
At one point on Tuesday morning, VinFast shares traded as high as $24, which would have valued the EV start-up, which has not posted a profit, at $55 billion, more than Ford’s market capitalization at $48 billion.
However, the volume of trading was negligible, with only 0.07% of shares changing hand in the first hour after the listing.
VinFast’s founder, Vietnam’s richest man Pham Nhat Vuong, pledged $2.5 billion in April to bolster the EV maker, including $1 billion from his personal fortune.
He is the beneficial owner of 99% of the 2.3 billion ordinary shares of the EV maker after the merger through his flagship company and affiliates.
VinFast is 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.
VinFast’s first-quarter revenue dropped 49% from the previous year, and it posted a net loss of $598 million. In 2022, the company posted a loss of $2.1 billion. It has not yet made a profit.
The company has started construction on a $4-billion plant in North Carolina.
(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen, Yantoultra Ngui and Jaiveer Singh Shekhawat; Editing by Kevin Krolicki, Miral Fahmy, Sharon Singleton, Ed Osmond and Conor Humphries)