Investors in VinFast’s SPAC cash out most shares

FILE PHOTO: VinFast electric vehicles are parked before delivery to their first customers at a store in Los Angeles

HANOI (Reuters) -Shareholders of Black Spade Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that has plans to merge with Vietnam’s electric automaker VinFast to allow a U.S. listing, have redeemed over 80% of their shares, the SPAC said on Friday.

It was a setback for VinFast, which had initially planned a U.S. listing on its own and has struggled to start production and ramp up sales outside Vietnam.

Earlier this year, VinFast delayed plans to build a $4 billion U.S. electric vehicle (EV) factory in North Carolina. It pushed the start date for the plant to 2025 from 2024.

The Hong Kong-based SPAC’s shareholders have not yet voted on the proposed merger with VinFast, but have exercised their right to redeem shares by Tuesday this week.

Black Spade Acquisition (BSA) said that redemptions amounted to approximately $147 million. “Following the redemption (…), the amount of funds remaining in the trust account is approximately $28.56 million,” the SPAC said in a statement.

VinFast is one of several EV startups fighting to maintain a foothold as market leaders Tesla and BYD engage in a price war, and growth in demand for EVs appears to be slowing in major markets.

“The redemption is inline with recent trend of other SPACs seeking extension,” VinFast said in a statement to Reuters. “There is no impact on the listing process or agreed valuation.”

NYSE-listed BSA was founded by the private investment arm of Lawrence Ho, the son of gambling mogul Stanley Ho. As the SPAC’s planned timeframe for striking a deal drew towards its end, BSA announced in May a surprise merger plan with VinFast to list the carmaker in the New York Stock Exchange.

The SPAC had initially sought to merge with a company ideally in the entertainment business, according to its website.

In a new twist, a month later BSA delisted from NYSE and joined the secondary NYSE American, a market for smaller-cap companies that has tended to have lower liquidity.

VinFast, which was founded in 2017 and began selling EVs in California this year, previously filed for an initial public offering in the U.S. to list on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol “VFS” in December last year, aiming for a valuation of about $60 billion.

The new merged entity was estimated by VinFast and BSA to have a potential equity value of $23 billion.

On Thursday, the SPAC’s remaining shareholders voted to extend its lifespan by one year, about a week before the end of its original two-year term.

BSA had no immediate additional comment.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio, Phuong Nguyen and Kevin KrolickiEditing by David Evans, Mark Potter and David Gregorio)