UPDATE 1-Vietnam's Vingroup to raise $303.6 mln via bonds for phones, autos units

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HANOI, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Vingroup, Vietnam’s biggest listed company, is seeking to raise 7 trillion dong ($303.6 million) through issue of domestic bonds this year to fuel its automobile and smartphone units, the company said in a statement.

The issuance would be in three phases, starting on Feb. 18, the company said. Nearly 73% of capital raised will be channelled into Vinfast, the group’s automobile unit, the rest to phones unit Vinsmart.

The bonds would have a maturity of three years, with par value of 100,000 dong each, it said in the statement seen on Monday.

Vingroup, once a real estate and retail conglomerate, has grown to become Vietnam’s largest listed firm with a market capitalisation of over $15.4 billion.

It also deals in healthcare, education, autos and smartphones and plans to enter the artificial intelligence sector.

In 2017, Vingroup earmarked $3.5 billion to create its Vinfast car unit with plans to produce around 250,000 units annually within the next five years, a period when it does not expect the venture to be profitable.

VinFast sold 29,485 cars last year, however, compared with 15,300 sold in 2019, the company said.

Vinsmart last year said it had produced its first 5G smartphones in cooperation with the U.S.’s Qualcomm. ($1 = 23,060 dong) (Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Martin Petty)