Founder of VinGroup and VinFast Cars — Brief Biography
The Vietnamese EV start-up, VinFast, is just one subsidiary of a massive Vietnamese conglomerate called Vingroup. VinGroup was founded by Vietnamese billionnaire and entrepreneur Phạm Nhật Vượng, who remains its chairman.
Phạm Nhật Vượng originally studied geo-economics at the Hanoi University of Mines and Geology (aka Trường Đại học Mỏ – Địa chất Hà Nội). In 1987, he would earned a scholarship for his prowess in mathematics to attend the Russian State Geological Prospecting University (aka Российский государственный геологоразведочный университет, РГГРУ).
While living as a student in the Soviet Union, he began his entrepreneurial activities by importing cheap goods from Vietnam for resale in Russia. Upon graduation and during the collapse of the Soviet Union, he married a school colleague, Phạm Thu Hương, and the two moved to Kharkiv, Ukraine, to open a restaurant.
His first major business success came in 1993 by founding the Ukrainan instant-noodle brand “Mivina” (Мівіна), which would quickly became the country’s leading brand (achieving 97% marketshare). To kickstart Mivina, Phạm Nhật Vượng is said to have raised $100,000 from friends. In 2004, the Swiss company Nestle bought the company for $150,000 USD.
He would return to Vietnam and build Vietnam’s largest and most successful conglomerate: VinGroup. The group includes a large diversity of operations and goods, from real estate to medicine, and now, with VinFast, EV cars.
VinGroup has been likened to the South Korean notion of Chaebol — huge Asian conglomerates run and controlled by a single family.
Phạm Nhật Vượng was born in 1968 in Hanoi, Vietnam. His father (Pham Nhat Quang) was a soldier in the Vietnamese Air Force. His mother sold tea on in street markets.
Phạm Nhật Vượng has two siblings: a brother and sister. His brother is the chairman of AVG Television, and has been charged with bribery in 2019. His sister is a member of the VinGroup Board of Directors, as well as a General Director of multiple companies operating in telecommunications technology and investment services.
Phạm Nhật Vượng has a wife and three children, one of whom is the Deputy General Director at VinPearl, VinGroup’s subsidiary focused on resorts and entertainment.
Brief History of VinGroup
VinGroup (ticker VIC, HCMC Exchange) is a major, multi-industry Vietnamese conglomerate, whose reach extends into to nearly all sectors of the Vietnamese economy (real estate, tourism, health, retail). It has an annual revenue of approximately $5.6 billion USD.
The company has it’s origins under the predecessor “Technocom”, which specialized in the instant noodles in the Ukraine. In 2004, Nestle acquired the Technocom facility and the Mivina brand, among other foodstuff holdings.
In 2003, Phạm Nhật Vượng opened a five-star resort in Nha Trang, called “VinPearl” . Quickly thereafter, he opened the Vincom Center in Ba Trieu, on the (then) outskirts of Hanoi’s downtown: the complex was the first Western-style mall and commercial centre to be built in the newly-reformed Socialist country. By 2011, Vincom and VinPearl were merged to form modern-day “VinGroup JSC”.
Since the merger, VinGroup has expanded its product-lines and subsidiaries to include:
- real estate (VinCom, VinHome);
- tourism and entertainment (VinPearl, VinAsia, VinWonders);
- beauty and fashion (Vincharm, VinDS);
- medical services and pharmaceuticals (VinMec, VinFa);
- education (VinUni)
… and now with the founding of the VinFast brand (vinfastauto.us), the conglomerate has expanded into the automotive sector and EVs. Two of its consumer electronics holdings, VinCommerce and VinEco, were sold to Vietnam’s Masan Group (ticker MSN).
A Country Milestone — Many Hanoi Millennials remember the opening of VinCom as an emotional milestone, demarcating the tail-end of command-and-control scarcity and ushering in a new era of growth and consumerism.
Within Vietnam, the VinGroup is renown for having very-high product standards and excellence, as well as ruthless work environment.
Brief History of VinFast
VinFast was founded in 2017 by VinGroup. The company’s vision was to become Vietnam’s first high-quality EV product and mass-market automaker, especially to meet tough quality standards of the EU. To do so, they reportedly poached many European engineers to build-out its technology and design, as well as signed many technology license agreements with European automakers.
In 2017, VinFast first broke-ground with a 828-acre facility on Cát Hải Island (near the port city of Hai Phong, North Vietnam). The brand made its first major global debut in the 2018 Paris Motor Show, revealing the LUX A2.0 sedan and the LUX SA2.0 SUV.
In 2018, the company signed major contracts with Western automotive brands, including with Siemens to manufacture electric buses for Southeast Asian countries. VinFast also obtained the exclusive rights to distribute GM Chevys in Vietnam, as well as an agreement to produce a GM-licensed “small car” for global sale.
In 2019, VinFast produced its first batch cars for foreign markets (155 units), mainly for quality testing. At the time, it was the fifth best-selling brand in Vietnam, especially popular among Socialist Party members.
In March of 2022, VinFast announced it would locate its first North American auto-manufacturing plant in North Carolina, USA, with a plan to be up-and-running by mid-2024. The company’s plans to build-out German manufacturing capacity were put on pause due to the on-going energy crisis in the war-stricken Europe. In May 2022, VinFast announced that it would be moving its headquarters to Singapore.
Rumours of a VinFast SPAC or IPO have been brewing for several years. The company has been eyeing the USA or Singapore for listing, rather than Vietnam, in order to tap into global liquidity (Vietnam is considered a “Frontier Market” and uninvestable by most indexes), as well as skirt strict profitability requirements for listing on Vietnam’s own stock exchanges, i.e. VinFast operates at a loss of approximately 300 million USD.
In December 2022, the company filed a registration statement with the US SEC, formally declaring it’s intention to IPO.