Vietjet, which Madam Thao owns a 95 percent stake in, is planning an initial public offering (IPO) in the coming months. The airline is looking to offer as much as a 30 percent stake and aims to seek a valuation of more than $1 billion. After this Madam Thao, aged 45, is set to have a net worth exceeding $1 billion, making her Vietnam’s first female billionaire. The majority of her wealth comes from her majority stake in Sovico Holdings, which own Vietjet and Dragon City, a real estate development in HCMC, as well as other ventures.
“I’ve never sat down and calculated my assets,” said Madam Thao in an interview with Bloomberg. “I’m more focused on how to boost the company’s growth, how to increase the average salary for my employees, and how to lead the airline to gain more market share and make it number one.”
Vietjet’s revenue tripled to 10.9 trillion dong ($488 million) last year, while net income rose to almost 1 trillion dong. The airline now accounts for more than a 30 percent market share in Vietnam.
Madam Thao’s business ventures began in 1988 when she was studying in Moscow, where she began as a trade distributor for clothing, office equipment and consumer goods, making her first million when she was 21. She then moved on to trade steel, machinery and other commodities before returning to Vietnam to invest in a bank.
“You have to take the lead and take calculated risks,” she said. “I have a responsibility to contribute to the economy and to push for positive changes of the country and in the society, in light of international integration that’s happening.”
Vietjet currently operates 47 domestic and international routes. It offers twice daily flights from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City where travelers can easily connect to other cities within Vietnam via the airline’s extensive network of domestic flights. In addition, other international routes include Bangkok, Siem Reap, Taipei, Yangon and Seoul.