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Vietnam Internet giant files to be first tech firm from that country go public in U.S. as the market for new listings thaws

Internet startup VNG filed for an initial public offering in the US, making it the first Vietnamese technology company to seek a listing in New York and adding to a diversifying roster of companies planning listings as equity markets thaw.

VNG, which plans to offer almost 22 million shares in the IPO, will set a proposed price range in a later filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. It said in its filing Wednesday that VNG will continue to be controlled by its founders, Le Hong Minh and Vuong Quang Khai. VNG will own 49% of VNG Corp., the Vietnamese operating company.

Formerly known as Vinagame, VNG Corp. had its start as a game publisher in 2004. It develops and publishes its own titles as well as local versions of international hits, and has gradually expanded to a wide range of services, such as music sharing, video streaming, messaging, a news portal and mobile payments. It has been exploring going public in the US since at least 2017.

Its messaging app, Zalo, has won over Meta Platform Inc.’s Facebook Messenger to become the most-used chatting platform in Vietnam since 2020. Zalo has 75 million monthly active users, according to a statement.

“We were born after the war, in a nation that had found peace and unity, but was still struggling with underdevelopment and isolation,” VNG’s founders said in a letter to investors included in the prospectus. “Little did we know how lucky we were when the Internet arrived in Vietnam in the middle of the 1990s. The world magically and suddenly opened the door for us.”

VNG Ltd.’s IPO would follow this month’s US debut of Vietnamese electric-vehicle maker Vinfast Auto Ltd. after it completed a merger with blank-check company Black Spade Acquisition Co. in a deal valuing it at $23 billion. 

A listing by VNG would add momentum to an IPO market that has been warming in fits and starts. Chip designer Arm Holdings Ltd., majority owned by SoftBank Group Corp., is planning to go public in September in what would be the year’s biggest IPO. San Francisco-based grocery delivery firm Instacart Inc. and marketing, data automation provider Klaviyo and footwear maker Birkenstock are also preparing to file for IPOs, Bloomberg News has reported.

VNG sees games as the spearhead of its global expansion plans while also seeking to add revenue from artificial intelligence and cloud computing products, Minh, the company’s chief executive officer, said in an interview last year. The gaming arm VNGGames has at least 9 studio games abroad including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Taipei and China.

The offering is being led by Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley, UBS Group AG and Bank of America Corp. The company plans for its shares to trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol VNG.

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