By Mai Nguyen
HANOI, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Vietnamese budget airline VietJet Air is preparing to list on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange at a starting price of 90,000 dong ($3.97) per share, it said a filing to the exchange on Thursday, valuing the company at $1.19 billion.
VietJet, Vietnam’s biggest private airline, did not state a precise date for the listing but it had planned to join the exchange later this month. The company received a listing approval earlier this week from the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange.
The airline had intended to list overseas by last year, but the plan was put on ice. Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and a Morgan Stanley investment fund are among 26 foreign investors which recently bought a stake in VietJet.
Company CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, the nation’s first female billionaire, is the biggest shareholder.
The CAPA Centre for Aviation has said that VietJet, which currently commands 40 percent of Vietnam’s domestic market, will likely surpass flag carrier Vietnam Airlines this year as the nation’s top domestic carrier.
VietJet currently operates about 60 routes both locally and internationally, and expects to have a fleet of 200 aircraft by 2023. It had ordered billions worth of jets from both Airbus and Boeing in recent years.
VietJet will list 300 million shares on the stock exchange. The company also plans to issue an additional 22.4 million shares at 84,600 dong per share in 2017, subject to approval by shareholders and the State Securities Commission, it said.
Its 2016 net profit jumped 96 percent annually to 2.29 trillion dong on rising revenue the filing showed, while its CEO Thao told Reuters the bottom line is expected to climb 30 percent this year. ($1 = 22,665 dong) (Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Keith Weir)