Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways expects a market capitalization of as much as $1 billion at its planned listing in the first quarter next year.
The startup carrier plans to list about 400 million shares on either the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange or Hanoi Stock Exchange as early as January, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Nguyen Khac Hai said in a phone interview in Hanoi. Bamboo Airways expects to set the initial price for its trading debut in the range of 50,000 dong to 60,000 dong ($2.59) per share, he added.
“We expect the stock market to do well from now until next year as the macro-economic conditions are very positive,” Hai said. In Vietnam, companies often sell shares months before a listing in an exchange. Bamboo, however, plans to list shortly after the share sale.
The benchmark VN Index of Vietnamese stocks rose 4.9% in the third quarter, making it Southeast Asia’s top performer as the country continues to be a beneficiary of supply chains shifting away from China amid its trade war with the U.S. The gauge is up about 11% this year.
Shares of FLC Group JSC, which owes Bamboo Airways, jumped 6.9% as of 9:56 a.m. local time, most since July 25, 2018 while the VN Index was up 0.2%.
Bamboo Airways Chairman Trinh Van Quyet said last month that the company expects to raise about $100 million from the IPO. The carrier’s registered capital will increase to about 4 trillion dong from 2.2 trillion dong after the share sale, according to Hai.
The airline, which joined Vietnam’s crowded skies last January, seeks to tap into the nation’s growing middle class. The country’s airports handled 106 million passengers in 2018, up about 13% from the previous year, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam. Conglomerate Vingroup JSC plans to start Vinpearl Air flights next year. Vietravel Airlines, owned by Vietnam tour operator Vietravel, also expects to begin offering fights in 2020.
The new carriers face competition from entrenched domestic airlines: state-run Vietnam Airlines JSC and budget carrier VietJet Aviation JSC. The national carrier owns 70% of low-cost operator Jetstar Pacific Airlines Aviation JSC, with Qantas Airways Ltd. holding the remainder. Vietnam Airlines also owns Vietnam Air Services Co., known as Vasco.
Bamboo Airways currently operates 13 aircraft on 25 domestic and international routes. The company will receive five more new planes this month and expects to increase its fleet to 25 aircraft by the end of this year and to 30 in 2020, Hai said. It plans to be the first Vietnamese carrier to operate direct flights to the U.S., expected in late 2020, Quyet said in August.