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VinFast says goodbye to four top executives as it gets ready for expansion

VinFast says goodbye to four top executives as it gets ready for expansion

A VinFast electric SUV VF8 model is on display at a store the Vietnamese automaker plans to open in Santa Monica, California, U.S. May 23, 2022. REUTERS/David Swanson

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June 16 (Reuters) – Four senior executives at Vietnam’s VinFast have exited the electric vehicle startup as it prepares to launch its first overseas model and roll out a network of showrooms in the United States and Europe, the company said.

The recent round of exits comes as VinFast prepares to begin construction on a $4 billion plant in North Carolina, opens its first showrooms in California, heads for a potential stock market IPO and seeks funding from the US government.

The executives who have left are Emmanuel Bret, deputy chief executive officer for global sales; Franck Euvrard, Deputy CEO for Product Development; Hong Bae, deputy CEO for vehicle technology development and Bruno Tavares, who served as chief finance officer, said the company.

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A spokesman for VinFast, a unit of the conglomerate Vingroup (VIC.HM), said it had “terminated employment contracts” with the four with their consent. It said two of the executives, none of whom it was named, had resigned for personal reasons.

“They all agreed to end their contracts in legal terms,” ​​the company said in a statement to Reuters. “Human resource customization is a common business practice around the world. VinFast is no exception.”

Bret, a former BMW executive, had joined VinFast in Hanoi in January and was tasked with rolling out the company’s planned overseas sales network. He was one of the executives who represented VinFast at the New York Auto Show in April, when it showcased prototypes of its VF8 and VF9 electric SUVs.

Euvrard, who joined VinFast in January from Tata Technologies, was tasked with developing VinFast’s entire EV product range.

Hong Bae, a veteran of Samsung Electronics, Faraday Future and Fisker, joined VinFast last July.

None of the board members could be reached for comment.

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A memo from the office of VinFast Chief Executive Le Thi Thu Thuy, seen by Reuters, said all executives had been fired for a range of reasons related to the quality of their work.

A company spokesperson said the memo had not been properly reviewed and had been withdrawn.

Huy Chieu, a former GM engineer, who joined VinFast last November, had been promoted to lead his EV development efforts after leading work on the VF8, according to a separate memo seen by Reuters. The same memo stated that the company had chief engineers for two planned, future models that did not make it to the prototype, the VF5 and VF6.

VinFast confirmed that the arrangements described in the memo had taken place. Chieu could not be reached for comment.

Thuy took over as CEO of VinFast in December after the resignation of German CEO Michael Lohscheller, who stepped down as CEO of the Stellantis brand Opel to lead VinFast. Lohscheller has resigned for personal reasons, the company said.

VinFast has had three CEOs since its inception in 2017.

VinFast, which began production in 2019, is betting big in the U.S. market, where it hopes to compete with older automakers and startups with two all-electric SUVs and a battery-lease model that will lower its purchase price.

VinFast has pledged to create 7,500 jobs at its planned North Carolina plant, where it will build the battery-powered VF8 and the larger and more expensive VF9.

It plans to begin exporting the two electric vehicles to the United States from its existing plant in Vietnam later this year.

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Written by Kevin Krolicki; Editing by Robert Birsel

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