VietJet CEO set to become Southeast Asia’s first woman self-made billionaire

Southeast Asia is poised to see its first woman self-made billionaire if Vietnamese Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, CEO of VietJet Aviation, succeeds with the upcoming initial public offering of the airline.

According to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, Thao, 45, is set to be worth over US$1 billion (S$1.37 billion), more than any other woman has ever earned in the country.

While she has amassed most of her wealth from VietJet and real estate development Dragon City, Thao reportedly stated that she has not calculated how much she owns.

“I’m just focused on how to boost the company’s growth, how to increase the average salary for my employees, how to lead the airline to gain more market share and make it number one,” Bloomberg quoted her as saying.

VietJet’s IPO is expected to take place within the next three months, as it seeks a valuation of more than US$1 billion, Bloomberg reported.

Thao is believed to own 95 per cent of the company.

An analyst from CIMB told the business news provider that Thao is a quiet figure in Vietnam despite her success.

Earlier this year, Air Transport World reported that the low-cost carrier had a revenue of 10.9 trillion dong (S$673 million) in 2015, up 34.5 per cent from 8.1 trillion dong in 2014.

According to Bloomberg, Thao studied finance and economics in Moscow, where she also tried her hand as a trade distributor and earned her first million within three years.

Her airline previously made headlines for its controversial decision to have flight attendants dress in bikinis for some of its flights to beach locations.

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