VinFast, Vietnam’s EV Maker, Signs $23B SPAC Deal – Autoblog

VinFast, an electric vehicle manufacturer founded by Vietnam’s wealthiest individual, is set to go public through a merger with blank-check company Black Spade Acquisition Co. This move will make it the largest-ever US listing by a Southeast Asian company. According to a statement from Vingroup JSC, VinFast will have an equity value of approximately $23 billion and a total valuation of around $27 billion, including debt. The merger is expected to close in the second half of 2022, subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals. Following the transaction, VinFast shareholders will own approximately 99% of the combined entity.

Shares of Black Spade rose by as much as 12% in pre-market trading following the announcement. VinFast will become one of the few Asian companies seeking to list in the US through mergers with special purpose acquisition companies, despite similar transactions slowing down due to tighter regulatory oversight and lukewarm market sentiment. Other companies that have gone public in the US through SPAC mergers include smart-car tech startup Ecarx Holdings Inc. and Singaporean TV licensing firm Allrites Holdings Pte.

VinFast aims to break the trend of EV manufacturers struggling after SPAC mergers. Companies that have wiped out shareholders since merging with blank-check firms in recent years include Nikola Corp., Lordstown Motors Corp., and Canoo Inc. Electric Last Mile Solutions Inc., another EV hopeful, filed for bankruptcy almost a year ago. If successful, a SPAC merger will mark the culmination of VinFast’s years-long efforts to become a publicly-traded company. Bloomberg News first reported in early 2021 that Vingroup was considering a $2 billion US initial public offering for the EV unit, and the company filed confidentially for the share sale in April 2022.

VinFast is stepping up its efforts to expand into markets beyond Vietnam, with plans to build a factory in North Carolina and ship its first vehicles to Europe in July. The company shipped its second batch of electric cars to North America in April, with plans to start delivering to customers in the US this month. VinFast CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy said in a statement that the partnership with Black Spade and listing of VinFast in the US represents the perfect capital raising avenue for the company’s future global ambitions.

Vingroup’s founder Pham Nhat Vuong, Vietnam’s richest person with a net worth of $3.9 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, started his own business while studying in Moscow and left Russia with $40,000 in debt. He began a dried-foods company in Ukraine in the early ’90s that sold instant noodles and mashed potatoes and sold it to Nestle SA for an undisclosed amount in 2010. Vuong committed as much as $2 billion to VinFast after starting the company in 2017 and last month said he will give another $1 billion to the EV maker within the next year. Vingroup will also provide a loan of $1 billion for up to five years and chip in $500 million.

Black Spade Acquisition Co. raised $169 million in a US IPO in 2021. The Hong Kong-based blank check firm aims to identify a business combination target related to or in the entertainment industry, with a focus on enabling technology, lifestyle brands, products or services, and entertainment media. Its sponsor Black Spade Capital Ltd. is the private investment arm of Lawrence Ho, the chairman and chief executive officer of casino operator Melco International Development Ltd.