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What drives the venture capital investments in China?

Yixi Ning (School of Economics and Management, Wuhan Polytechnic University, Wuhan, China and School of Business Administration, University of Houston Victoria, Victoria, Texas, USA)
Gubo Xu (College of Economics and Management, Anhui Open University, Hefei, Anhui Province, China)
Ziwu Long (School of Economics and Management, Wuhan Polytechnic University, Wuhan, China)

Chinese Management Studies

ISSN: 1750-614X

Article publication date: 5 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine the venture capital (VC) industry in China. It has demonstrated a history of high growth with significant variations over time. The authors have examined the trends and determinants of VC investments in China over a 20-year period from 1995 to 2014. They find that the aggregate amount of VC investments, the total number of venture deals and the average amount of venture investments per deal in China are all significantly impacted by macroeconomic conditions (i.e. GDP, export, money supply), technology innovations and financial market indicators (i.e. initial public offerings (IPOs), interest rate, price-to-earnings ratio, etc.). They also find that the 2007 China A-Share stock market crash and the subsequent global financial crisis have motivated VCists in China to adjust their investment strategies and risk levels by allocating more capital to later-stage investments and securing more deals with later-round financings. However, after the 2008 global financial crisis, the China’s venture industry has recovered faster compared to the US counterpart response.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors first perform trend analysis of VC investments at an aggregate level, by stages of development, and across industry from 1995 to 2014.To test H1 and H2, the authors use multiple regression models with lagged explanatory variables. To test H3, the authors use univariate tests to compare the measures of VC investments at an aggregate level, stage funds ratios, stage deals ratios and financing series ratios during both a five-year and seven-year time windows around the 2007 A-Share stock market crash and the subsequent financial crisis.

Findings

The development of the VC industry in China has demonstrated a history of high growth with significant variation over time. The authors find that the aggregate amount of VC investments, the total number of venture deals and the average amount of venture investments per deal in China are all significantly impacted by macroeconomic conditions (i.e. GDP, export, money supply), technology innovations and financial market indicators (i.e. IPOs, interest rate, price-to-earnings ratio, etc.). The authors also find that the 2007 China A-Share stock market crash and the subsequent global financial crisis have motivated VCists in China to adjust their investment strategies and risk by allocating more capital to later-stage investments and securing more deals with later-round financings. However, the China VC industry has recovered faster compared to the USA just after the 2008 global financial crisis.

Research limitations/implications

There are also limitations in the study. The VC data in China in the earlier 1990s might not be very reliable due to the quality of statistics. Therefore, the trend analysis and discussions mainly focus on the time after 2000. Also, the authors cannot find VC financing sequence data for the analysis. Second, there is no doubt that the policy impact from Chinese transforming economic system and government policies on its VC industry is substantial (Su and Wang, 2013). However, they cannot find an appropriate variable to be included in the empirical models to consider this effect. Further study on this area would provide meaningful information. Third, although the authors have done comparison study between the VC industry in China in this study and the VC industry in the US documented in Ning et al. (2015) and discussed some interesting findings, more in-depth research in this area will be very useful.

Practical implications

The findings have meaningful implications for VCists and start-up companies seeking equity financings in China. VCists should closely monitor macroeconomic and market conditions to make appropriate adjustments to their risk and investment strategies. Entrepreneurs seeking equity financings for their business could also monitor the identified macroeconomic and market indicators, which can help them with their timing and to negotiate a better equity financing deal. VC financing is more likely to succeed when key macroeconomic and market indicators become favorable.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the literature by testing the supply and demand theory on the VC market proposed by Poterba (1989) and Gompers and Lerner (1998) from the macroeconomic perspective using 20 years’ VC data from China. The authors also examine how the 2007 A-Share stock market crash and the subsequent financial crisis affected VCists to adjust their risk levels and investment strategies. It provides useful information for international academia and policymakers to understand the quick rise of China VC industry. The authors also find that the macroeconomic drivers of VC industry are somewhat different under different economic systems.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper was submitted to the Asian Finance Association (AsianFA) 2017 Conference in Seoul, Korean through the SSRN (or Social Science Electronic Publishing) online submission system On January 18, 2017. The authors thank the support provided by the “Chutian Scholar” program in the School of Economics and Management at Wuhan Polytechnic University. They also thank the Editor Cherrie Zhu, the Associate Editor Xiaohui Wang and three anonymous referees for their valuable comments.

Citation

Ning, Y., Xu, G. and Long, Z. (2019), "What drives the venture capital investments in China?", Chinese Management Studies, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 574-602. https://doi.org/10.1108/CMS-07-2017-0193

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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