VinFast Names Vietnam’s Richest Billionaire New CEO

Vuong Already Serves as Chairman of Vietnamese EV Maker
VinFast signage
Billionaire Pham Nhat Vuong, chairman of VinFast’s parent company Vingroup, will assume the role of CEO of VinFast. (Tobias Arhelger/Dreamstime/TNS)

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VinFast, the Vietnamese electric carmaker building a multibillion-dollar factory in North Carolina, has replaced its CEO and chief financial officer in the latest executive shuffle at the young company.

Billionaire Pham Nhat Vuong, chairman of VinFast’s parent company Vingroup, will assume the role of CEO, the company announced Jan. 5. The outgoing CEO, Le Thi Thu Thuy, will now chair VinFast’s board of directors. Thuy had held the position since March 2022, the month VinFast unveiled its vision for its first North American facility — a 7,500-worker assembly and battery plant 30 miles southwest of Raleigh, N.C., near the town of Moncure. Construction began in July.

Late last week, VinFast also announced it will replace its chief financial officer, David Mansfield, with Nguyen Thi Lan Anh, who previously worked with Vingroup, one of the largest private conglomerates in Vietnam. Mansfield had served as CFO since 2021.

“The board concluded that it is the right time to evolve the company’s leadership as it enters the next phase of its development,” VinFast said in a statement. As CEO, Pham will “directly oversee” VinFast operations, the company noted, including its global production.

Executive turnover has been common at the 7-year-old company. Vuong will be the third VinFast CEO in the past three years, a period in which the automaker pivoted from producing gas-powered cars in Vietnam to making electric vehicles marketed internationally.

Prior to Thuy, VinFast had been led by automotive veteran Michael Lohscheller, who resigned within a year of becoming CEO.

Last winter, three other VinFast executives exited in short succession, including the chief marketing officer and chief service officer, who departed when the company reorganized its management model. In June, four more senior executives left.

While Vuong will only now claim the CEO title, those familiar with the company’s inner workings say he already closely managed VinFast operations, from reviewing media responses to green-lighting small price changes on batteries.

“He’s heavily involved,” said Barry Weisblatt, a former employee based in Vietnam. “Minutiae, small details would go to him for approval.”

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Vuong is the wealthiest person in Vietnam, with a net worth of $4.6 billion, according to Forbes. He made his initial fortune selling instant noodles in Ukraine. His Vingroup businesses are prevalent in Vietnam, with each subsidiary following a common naming format that reveals its focus, from Vinhomes (residential real estate) and Vinmec (health care) to Vinschool (education) and more.

“The joke in Vietnam is: From birth to death, you do it in a Vingroup building,” said Eddy Malesky, a Duke University political science professor who specializes in Vietnam’s economic development.

Vuong launched VinFast in 2017, and his company has pledged to open its Chatham County factory in 2025. The project marks the first major automotive assembly plant in North Carolina history.

The company continues to invest in other foreign markets as well. On Jan. 6, it committed $500 million to build an electric vehicle facility in India.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC