Exclusive: EV maker VinFast aims to raise free float to 10%-20% by end-2024 -chair

LAS VEGAS, (Reuters) – Vietnamese electric vehicle maker VinFast aims to increase its free float, or shares available to the public for trading, to 10% to 20% by the end of this year from roughly 2% currently, the company’s chairperson said on Tuesday.

“This year we plan as the markets recover and as we show more achievements of progress, we will do follow-on transactions … increasing the free float, bringing in many more investors, including long-only investors,” Le Thi Thu Thuy, the former CEO and current VinFast chairperson, told Reuters on the sidelines of the CES trade show in Las Vegas. The free float “hopefully would be 10% to 20% at least,” she said.

A larger free float could lessen the intense volatility in the company’s stock, which has tumbled since a splashy debut on the Nasdaq in August, when shares surged more than 255%, notching a market value of roughly $85 billion. It is now valued at nearly $16 billion.

VinFast, which is yet to make a profit, entered the EV market as car prices were under pressure, led by cuts at market leader Tesla (TSLA.O) and Chinese companies including BYD (002594.SZ).

The company sells 60% of its EVs to an affiliate company owned by its founder Pham Nhat Vuong, Vietnam’s richest man, who also controls VinFast. In the first three quarters of 2023, VinFast sold more than 21,000 EVs and posted a net loss of $1.73 billion.

At CES on Tuesday, the automaker launched a prototype of its new pickup truck VF Wild, which will not be ready for deliveries before 2026. It also said it plans to launch its mini electric SUV VF 3 globally, rather than just in Vietnam as initially planned. It expects to start delivering the model in the United States early next year.

Last week, VinFast announced a plan to set up manufacturing and battery facilities in India. It also aims to expand in more markets in the Middle East, Latin America and Asia, including Indonesia.

It also shuffled executives last week, with Thuy and Vuong swapping jobs. Chairman Vuong became CEO and CEO Thuy became chair.

Thuy said the move allowed her to concentrate on raising funds for growth. “This year I need to focus on fundraising for VinFast,” she told Reuters. “Also, we need to tell the right story of VinFast to people.”

People assume a Vietnamese company making EVs may not have the best technology, Vuong said, adding she wanted to change that notion.

Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Las Vegas and Phuong Nguyen in Hanoi; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh, Peter Henderson, Matthew Lewis and Jamie Freed