When I heard about VinFast and the Moncure Megasite, my first thought was the company isn’t even listed on the Stock Exchange. They have announced a planned stock IPO (initial public offering) for late this year and are suggesting a market capitalization of over $60 billion. As a car company this would put them at #8, one spot behind GM.
That would be quite an accomplishment for a far-east oligarch whose company was formed just five years ago and sold only 45,000 cars in 2021, compared to GM’s 6.3 million. Tesla, #20 and founded in 2003, sold 936,000 cars last year.
This stuff is too good to be true. Governor Cooper and his comrades must be smoking something other than cigars.
With huge far-eastern companies like Alibaba and TenCent Holdings facing regulatory problems with China (granted VinFast is Vietnamese), I suggest Gov. Cooper, state bureaucrats, and county officials may be grossly over-estimating this venture. It could easily crash, resulting in a huge loss of state and county outlays.
I have some experience with N.C. incentives. In the 1990s due diligence was not important. The state was only interested in “properly completed forms” with believable math that promised additional jobs and above-average wages. When a company is begging, these requirements are easily put to paper. The state then hits the newspapers and TV taking credit for its largess and the wonderful job its governor and bureaucrats have done for the taxpayer. They never publish how many of those incentives and other outlays eventually are lost with no refunds from the companies involved.
Let’s hope the state and county have done their due diligence, but with a company that’s not even listed on the U.S. stock exchange, I’m suspicious. I think VinFast is looking for this deal to give them legitimacy and propel them through the IPO process, regardless of whether they succeed with their megasite plans. And Cooper, who likely is looking to 2024 for national political opportunities, is certainly loving the publicity. Should it collapse both VinFast and Cooper will have attained their goals while we taxpayers, one more time, will have paid the cost.
I’m not wishing this project to fail. It’s just that I’ve always expected officials giving away our hard-earned taxes to address incentives with extreme skepticism and care.
With VinFast, and its assorted cheerleaders, I have great concern. Let’s be careful what we ask for.
Philip H. Johnson
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