By Phuong Nguyen and Francesco Guarascio
HANOI (Reuters) – Shares in Vietnamese electric vehicle maker VinFast surged on their Nasdaq debut on Tuesday amid limited trading after the company closed its merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in Asia’s biggest M&A deal this year.
The stock opened at $22, more than double the last close for VinFast’s SPAC partner Black Spade Acquisition. The deal had valued VinFast at $23 billion.
At one point on Tuesday morning, the stock 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.
Several other EV makers have listed via such SPAC deals, which have attracted increased scrutiny from both investors and regulators, especially as competition in the EV market heats up.
Some of VinFast’s rivals, including Nikola Corp and Lucid, have seen their valuations plunge after their SPAC listings. Nikola now commands a market value of $1.4 billion, versus $13.9 billion before listing, while Lucid has a market value of $15.5 billion, versus $24 billion during its 2021 SPAC deal.
Shares in other rivals which did not list via SPACs, including Tesla Inc and Rivian Automotive Inc, have performed better. Tesla shares are up 94.6% this year while Rivian is up almost 17% higher.
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 plans to build a $4 billion plant in North Carolina and boost car shipments from its factory in Vietnam to the United States, its main target market overseas.
VinFast has shipped nearly 3,000 units to the U.S. and started delivering them from March. The company has not disclosed its sales, but according to S&P Global Mobility, it sold only 137 vehicles in the United States through June.
Earlier this year, VinFast ditched a $2 billion ordinary listing for the SPAC merger.
Investors in Black Spade Acquisition cashed out over 80% of their shares after the deal with VinFast, leaving only about $14 million in the company’s trust, according to a public 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.
(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen, Yantoultra Ngui and Jaiveer Singh Shekhawat; Editing by Francesco Guarascio, Miral Fahmy, Sharon Singleton, Ed Osmond and Conor Humphries)