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GIC is largest shareholder in VietJet after chief executive

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GIC Pte, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, has emerged as the largest shareholder of Vietnam’s sole private carrier VietJet Aviation Joint Stock Co, after its billionaire founder.

GIC owns 16.44mn shares or 5.48% of the budget airline, according to VietJet’s filings ahead of its listing. Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, who started the airline and remains its chief executive officer, owns more than 60% directly and through holding companies and other entities, the filings showed.

The carrier, known for its bikini-clad flight attendants, will hold its share trading debut on February 28, when it will list 300mn shares on the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange at 90,000 dong a share. That will give it a valuation of about $1.2bn, making it a bigger airline than Asiana Airlines Inc and Finnair Oyj by market capitalisation.

The emergence of low-cost operators is making air travel more affordable in Asia and has fuelled growth in passenger traffic in countries such as China and Vietnam. Airlines in Asia will fly more than 16,000 planes within 20 years, almost tripling the current number, according to estimates by Boeing Co.

VietJet is the only publicly disclosed stake GIC owns in an airline, based on filings compiled by Bloomberg. Jennifer Lewis, a spokeswoman for GIC, declined to comment on the investment.

VietJet forecasts 2017 profit to rise 30% from 2.3tn dong ($101.6mn) in 2016, Thao said last month. The airline forecasts 30% growth in passengers in 2017 after serving about 15mn travellers last year.


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