Institutional Investors in Global Capital Markets: Volume 12


Table of contents

(19 chapters)

Institutional investors have increasingly gained importance since the early 1990s. The assets under management in these funds have increased threefold since 1990 to reach more than US$45 trillion in 2005, including over US$20 trillion in equity (Ferreira & Matos, 2008). Further, the value of institutional investors' assets represents roughly 162.6% of the OECD gross domestic product in 2005 (Gonnard, Kim, & Ynesta, 2008). Given the magnitude of institutional investors' holdings relative to the world market capitalization, challenging questions on the economic role of these investors have been raised. One such question concerns their impact on the stability of stock markets. On the one hand, active strategies of buying and selling shares by these investors may contribute to moving stock prices away from their fundamental values. On the other hand, if all institutional investors react to the same information in a timely manner, they are in fact helping to increase market efficiency by speeding up the adjustment of prices to new fundamentals (for competing theories on the role of institutional investors, see, e.g., Lakonishok, Shleifer, & Vishny, 1992). This view of institutional investors as “efficiency drivers” generated considerable debate for many years (see, e.g., Ferreira & Laux, 2007; French & Roll, 1986).

Purpose – Examine the role of institutional investors in accelerating the development of capital markets and economies abroad, the determinants of their investment, both in the domestic and foreign markets, and their importance in promoting good corporate governance practices worldwide and facilitating increased financial integration.

Methodology/approach – Review and synthesize recent academic literature (1970–2011) on the process of international financial integration and the role of foreign institutional investors in the increasingly global financial markets.

Findings – Despite the concern that short-term flow of international capital can be destructive to the emerging and developing market economies, academic evidence on a destabilizing effect of foreign investment activity is limited. Institutional investors’ systematic preference for stocks of large, well-known, globally visible foreign firms can explain the presence of a home bias in international portfolio investment.

Research limitations – Given the breadth of the two literature streams, only representative studies (over 45 published works) are summarized.

Social implications – Regulators of emerging markets should first improve domestic institutions, governance, and macroeconomic fundamentals, and then deregulate domestic financial and capital markets to avoid economic and financial crises in the initial stages of liberalization reforms.

Originality/value of paper – A useful source of information for graduate students, academics, and practitioners on the importance of foreign institutional investors.

Purpose – Study the impact of the heterogeneity of institutional investors, evident in their investment horizon, on firm credit ratings.

Methodology/approach – Use a large sample of U.S. firms over the period from 1985 to 2006 (20,670 U.S. firm-year observations) to empirically investigate the relationship between institutional investment horizon and firm credit ratings. Test whether institutional investors with long-term investment horizon are associated with important monitoring and informational roles and thus higher credit ratings.

Findings – Stable shareholdings and relationship investing of institutional investors contribute to their monitoring and informational roles and result in higher firm credit ratings. Namely, ownership stakes of long-term institutional investors are associated with higher firm credit ratings than those of short-term institutional investors. In addition, the predominance and number of institutional investors with a long-term investment horizon affect firm's agency costs and information quality.

Social implications – Institutional monitoring incentives seem to be susceptible to the heterogeneity of institutional investors. The results point to the benefits of the long-term investment horizon of institutional investors (beyond their shareholdings) that seem to be associated with more efficient monitoring and thus reduced managerial myopia and opportunism.

Originality/value of the chapter – This is the first work to provide evidence on the extent to which the heterogeneity of institutional investors, evident in their investment horizon, alters firm's credit ratings.

Purpose – Investigate the causes and consequences of foreign financial institutions' divestments in China's banking sector which is an example of cross-border transactions by institutional investors.

Methodology – Use a sample of 26 foreign financial institutions' strategic investments in Chinese banks. Ten of those investments are divested after the global financial crisis. We investigate determinants of the divestment, business cooperation after the divestment, and Chinese banks' stock price reactions to the divestment announcement.

Findings – The poor performance of foreign financial institutions, which is attributable to the global financial crisis, and the institutions' regulated low equity ownership are important causes of divestment (or whole divestment). In contrast, Chinese banks' poor performance does not cause foreign divestments. Foreign financial institutions that fully divest their equity stakes usually terminate their cooperative business, which was required by the strategic investment agreement. The Bank of China and the China Construction Bank, which experienced large H-share divestments, experienced large economic declines in A-share values.

Social implications – Foreign financial institutions' strategic investments created substantial shareholder value before the divestment. Banking sector developments that rely on foreign investments are vulnerable to economic downturns in developed countries.

Originality/value of paper – To the best of our knowledge, this is the first trial to analyze the impact of divestments on divested bank performance.

Purpose – We study the investment behavior of foreign institutional investors operating in China. A detailed analysis of foreign institutional investors is examined, along with a comparison of domestic Chinese investors.

Methodology/approach – We adopt annual Chinese stock market data for the period 2003–2009 for both foreign and domestic funds to analyze the industrial preference of foreign funds and compare the different preferences between foreign funds and domestic Chinese funds in relation to financial characteristic and corporate governance indicators.

Findings – The analysis reveals that foreign funds have a preference for a range of sectors such as transportation, metals and nonmetals, and machinery, as opposed to industries with a requirement for local knowledge. The portfolios of domestic Chinese funds are distributed more evenly across sectors, compared to foreign funds. The comparative analysis reveals that the companies foreign funds invest in are significantly different from those firms favored by domestic funds in terms of size, profit, and management compensation.

Social implications – These empirical findings highlight the differences between foreign and domestic funds investment preferences and has implications for policy makers aiming to attract foreign investors to emerging markets.

Originality/value of chapter – Our chapter not only provides an introduction on the QFII scheme in China, but also examines the impact of a comprehensive range of firm-level characteristics, financial and corporate governance indicators, on the investment decisions of foreign and domestic funds in emerging markets.

Purpose – Study the firm-level and country-level determinants of US institutional investors' holdings in American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) from emerging markets.

Methodology/approach – We use a sample of 112 firms from emerging markets that listed as ADRs between 1990 and 2005. Rather than adopting the issuer's perspective, we take in this study the point of view of the investor and we focus on the US institutional investors' participation in ADR firms.

Findings – We find that institutional investors hold higher stakes in foreign firms that are listed on more restrictive exchanges, in large, privatized, more liquid, and more transparent firms. Mutual investors and other institutional investors also prefer firms from countries with weaker institutional environments and from civil law legal tradition. Controlling for country-level determinants increases significantly the explanatory power of the model.

Social implications – Our results have important implications for firms from emerging markets seeking to attract foreign institutional investors.

Originality/value of the chapter – We focus on the motivations of investors when they choose to invest in the ADR, rather than on the ADR issuer motivation. In addition, we consider all types of institutional investors that acquire a participation in an ADR firm.

Purpose – The aggregate investment by foreign institutional investors (FIIs) in the Indian stock market is significant compared to that by domestic institutions and individual (retail) investors. The question of whether FIIs exhibit herding and positive feedback trading while investing in the Indian stock markets has not been examined so far. This study is an attempt to fill the gap and contribute to the existing evidence on foreign portfolio investment in India.

Methodology/approach – We have analyzed the daily data on purchases and sales of securities by FIIs sourced from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), and the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). We have adopted the approach of Lakonishok et al. (1992), and Wermers (1999) to examine herding and positive feedback trading by foreign investors.

Findings – Our results suggest that FIIs exhibit herding and positive feedback trading during different phases of the stock market. This observed behavior is prominent in but not restricted to large cap stocks as they enjoy better liquidity.

Social implication – The herding and positive feedback trading by FIIs is a cause for concern for government of India, capital market regulator (SEBI), and the country's central bank (RBI) as it adversely affects stock prices and volatility. They are required to formulate and implement a suitable policy response given their objective of protecting the interests of small investors in the market. They may also have to monitor the purchases and sales of equities by FIIs in general and of better performing large cap stocks in particular.

Purpose – We develop a theoretical model to analyze the role that financial conglomerates may play in reducing agency costs in target firms.

Methodology/Approach – We develop a model to analyze the activism of a financial conglomerate (that includes investment banking besides mutual fund management activities) in monitoring the managers of a listed firm. The specific problem we study is this: should the managers of a listed company undertake a new project within the firm or should they develop it outside of the firm with the help of a bank? Should or not the financial conglomerate help the managers undertake the project outside of the existing firm at the expenses of the investors of the mutual fund that it manages, but collecting fees from the investment banking activities?

Findings – It will be attractive to both the financial conglomerate and the managers to develop the project outside of the firm if the fees charged by the financial conglomerate for the provision of investment banking services are within a certain range. However, a more intense reaction to performance from the fund investors will translate to a greater space of converging interests between the conglomerate shareholders and mutual fund investors. Additionally, if fees earned by the mutual fund company are a large source of income for the conglomerate, then the lower will be its tendency to assist the managers.

Social implications – From a regulatory standpoint, the implementation of measures aimed at transferring capital between funds without cost would allow mutual fund investors to intensify their reaction to fund performance, therefore increasing the likelihood of lower agency costs. We also conclude that supervisory authorities should pay special attention to the banking relationships of firms and banks to whom the asset management component is secondary and with smaller direct stakes in the said firm.

Originality/Value of paper – We develop a theoretical framework to explain the absence of activism of institutional investors integrated in financial conglomerates in the governance of listed firms.

Purpose – Study the role of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) as an example of foreign and politically connected large shareholders, and their impact on firm value.

Methodology/approach – Use a sample of SWF large U.S. investments where SWFs intend to actively engage with management to analyze not only whether but also why SWF investments outperform the market in both the short- and long term from the perspective of internationalization, political connections, and corporate governance.

Findings – Foreign and politically connected large investors, like SWFs, improve firm value through the provision of SWF domestic market access and government-related contracts. In the short run, the market welcomes SWF investments in expectation of potential monitoring and internationalization benefits. In the long run, the target firms’ degree of internationalization and Tobin's q increase substantially after SWF investments. The increase in q is directly related to the number of government-related contracts granted by SWF countries.

Social implications – SWF investment benefits appear to outweigh the costs for firm value and shareholders. The results point to the benefits of large and foreign investors for shareholders.

Originality/value of paper – This is the first work to provide evidence on how foreign government-related shareholders can affect firm value.

Purpose – Study the potential implications of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) on financial stability.

Methodology/approach – By assessing whether and how stock markets react to the announcements of investments and divestments to firms by SWFs, this chapter takes advantage of a hand-collected database on investments and divestments by major SWFs to evaluate the short-term financial impact of SWFs on selected public equity markets in which they invest.

Findings – Results show that there was no significant destabilizing effect of SWFs on equity markets, which is consistent with anecdotal evidence.

Social implications – SWFs could promote financial stability and should be given more development space.

Originality/value of the chapter – This study contributes to the emerging academic literature that seeks to analyze the behavior of SWFs in financial markets.

Purpose – This chapter discusses the potential role that Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs) could play to enhance development in African economies, both as recipient and home countries.

Methodology – We use hand collected data on the universe of Africa's SWFs, their sizes and transparency, and reporting scores to provide a landscape of these funds. We also focus on a sample of investments in Africa made both by African and foreign SWFs to describe the type of interventions these vehicles have been making on the continent.

Findings – Our analysis shows that African SWFs are small, suffer from poor governance, and are mainly focused on stabilizing local economies. This suggests that their potential role as long-term institutional investors to foster economic growth is likely to be limited if current practices are maintained. On the other hand, foreign SWFs are increasingly interested in Africa and are poised to play a bigger role in supporting the continent's growth if the right strategies are implemented.

Social implications – The chapter identifies opportunities that Africa offers to SWFs as well as the challenges that need to be addressed in order to enhance SWFs' role in supporting the continent's development.

Originality/value of paper – This chapter provides the first comprehensive landscape of African SWFs while also describing their interventions. It also uses an original data set to describe the geographic and sector distributions of foreign SWFs investments in Africa.

Purpose – Study the investment and risk management approach of sovereign wealth funds when national wealth including natural resources is accounted for rather than only financial asset.

Methodology/Approach – Using a range of widely used asset classes, we simulate sovereign wealth fund returns when considering only financial assets but also under varying levels of national wealth holdings in oil. We optimize two-asset financial portfolios and three-asset portfolios when including oil to maximize the risk-adjusted returns.

Findings – Sovereign wealth funds by failing to invest for the national wealth portfolio are overlooking a major source of volatility. To reduce the level of volatility associated with yearly national wealth returns, allocating a higher percentage of fixed assets to high-quality fixed income and low-risk equities will maximize the risk-adjusted returns of national wealth for sovereign wealth fund states.

Social implications – By focusing solely on the financial assets managed by sovereign wealth funds, states are exposing themselves to significant national wealth risk.

Originality/Value of the paper – This is the first work to estimate the impact on national wealth of oil-dependent states by failing to account for volatile commodity prices through the investment strategies of sovereign wealth funds.

Purpose – To study the allocation in equity markets of sovereign wealth funds’ (SWF) investments with respect to other institutional investors. To analyze the role of political regimes in the sending and recipient countries as a determinant of the allocation of SWF investments.

Methodology/approach – We use mutual funds’ investments as a benchmark for SWF investment allocations. We collect data of SWF and mutual fund equity investments at the firm level and analyse them on a geographical and sector basis. We compare target investments for these two groups by looking at the political regime in the sending and recipient country, using different political indicators (Polity IV, Bertelsmann). We provide a comparison of SWFs and pension funds based on governance features related to investment.

Findings – We find that the fear that sovereigns with political motivations use their financial power to secure large stakes in OECD countries is not confirmed by the data. SWF investment decisions do not differ greatly from those of other wealth managers. Although there can be differences in the allocation, political regimes in the recipient countries do not play a role in explaining the allocation of sovereign wealth funds.

Social implications – Investment from public institutions, such as sovereign wealth funds, can have significant implications at the economic and social level. Sovereign funds are potential sources of capital for emerging economies, and therefore can enchance economic growth. It is important to understand to what extent public institutional investors behave differently from private investors. The “political bias” is not a relevant factor for sovereign funds, or for other institutional investors, for allocating their capital. More often than not, their asset allocation strategies converge with other large investors, these being driven by financial and not political bias.

Originality/value of the chapter – The chapter is an original contribution providing a firm-level analysis of equity holdings for two groups of institutional investors. Moreover, it emphasizes the political dimension of institutional investments, highlighting the priorities and constraints of public investors participating in financial markets. The chapter suggests that SWFs do not discriminate by the political regime of the recipient country in their asset allocation.

Purpose – Run a comparative analysis between investments of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) and mutual funds, focusing on firm-level, country-level, and institutional variables.

Methodology/approach – We use a hand-collected sample of 1,845 acquisitions around the world over the last 25 years (251 for SWFs and 1,594 for mutual funds). We then run univariate parametric and nonparametric tests to assess the differences in the investments of both subsamples.

Findings – We review the literature on the determinants of SWFs' investment decisions. Our analysis adds to the scarce available literature on the investment decisions of SWFs and their comparison with other institutional investors. Our results show that, compared to mutual funds, SWFs indeed exhibit different preferences: for instance, SWFs prefer to acquire stakes in larger, less liquid companies which are financially distressed but which also have a higher level of growth opportunities. They also prefer less innovative firms with more concentrated ownership, which are located in less developed but geographically closer countries with whom they do not necessarily share cultural and religious backgrounds.

Social implications – Our results are important for practitioners and firms seeking to attract a given type of institutional investment. They also add insights to the debate on the “hidden” political objectives behind SWF investments in the Western world.

Originality/value of paper – This is the first attempt to empirically assess the differences in the investment choices of SWFs and mutual funds.

Publication date
Book series
International Finance Review
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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