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Vietnamese Tech Giant VNG Files for IPO in the US

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Vietnam’s technology landscape is poised for a significant transformation as internet startup VNG makes history by filing for an initial public offering (IPO) in the United States. This groundbreaking move not only marks the first time a Vietnamese tech company seeks a listing in New York but also underscores the growing diversification of companies aiming to capitalize on the thawing equity markets.

VNG, previously known as Vinagame, has set its sights on offering approximately 22 million shares in its upcoming IPO. The company is anticipated to unveil its proposed price range in a subsequent filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As outlined in its filing on Wednesday, VNG remains under the control of its founders, Le Hong Minh and Vuong Quang Khai. Additionally, VNG will maintain a 49% ownership stake in VNG Corp., its Vietnamese operating counterpart.

Having initially entered the scene as a game publisher in 2004, VNG Corp. has since evolved to become a multifaceted digital entity. It has not only developed and released its own gaming titles but has also localized global hits and expanded into an array of services such as music sharing, video streaming, messaging, news curation, and mobile payments. The company’s strategic shift towards an IPO in the US has been evident since 2017.

One of VNG’s crowning achievements is its messaging application, Zalo, which has risen to prominence, surpassing Meta Platform Inc.’s Facebook Messenger as the most widely used chatting platform in Vietnam since 2020. Zalo boasts an impressive 75 million monthly active users, according to official statements.

VNG’s founders expressed their journey and aspirations in a heartfelt letter to investors included within the prospectus: “We were born after the war, in a nation that had found peace and unity, but was still struggling with underdevelopment and isolation… The world magically and suddenly opened the door for us when the Internet arrived in Vietnam in the middle of the 1990s.”

VNG Ltd.’s IPO announcement closely follows the recent US debut of Vietnamese electric-vehicle manufacturer Vinfast Auto Ltd., which achieved this milestone through a merger with the blank-check company Black Spade Acquisition Co., valuing the merged entity at $23 billion.

If successful, VNG’s IPO could add momentum to an IPO market that has experienced fluctuations. Chip designer Arm Holdings Ltd., primarily owned by SoftBank Group Corp., is preparing to launch its IPO in September, potentially becoming the year’s most significant IPO. Other notable names, including grocery delivery service Instacart Inc., data automation provider Klaviyo, and footwear brand Birkenstock, are reportedly gearing up to file their own IPOs.

VNG envisions gaming as the linchpin of its global expansion strategy while simultaneously pursuing growth in revenue through artificial intelligence and cloud computing products. VNGGames, the company’s gaming division, has already established a presence with at least nine studio games in various international locations, including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Taipei, and China.

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Leading financial institutions including Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley, UBS Group AG, and Bank of America Corp. are spearheading VNG’s IPO. The company intends for its shares to be traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, under the symbol VNG. As the Vietnamese tech giant takes this historic step, it not only paves the way for its own future but also charts a path for other Asian companies to explore new horizons in the global market.

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