Asian Venture Capital Journal

China PE value-added: Empty promises? AVCJ

Fin

Author: Tim Burroughs

Asian Venture Capital Journal | 22 May 2013 | 15:47 secure

Tags: Gps | China | Operating partners | Buyout | Growth capital |Lunar capital management | Cdh investments management | Citic capital partners | Kohlberg kravis roberts & co. (kkr) | Jiuding Capital | Hony capital

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       China value-add: Empty promises?

Pulled by a desire to buy and build or pushed by a need to address restricted exit options, PE firms in China are placing greater emphasis on operational value-add. LPs must decide who’s all talk and who is action

By the time Harvard Business School published its case study of Kunwu Jiuding Capital in December 2011, the investment model being celebrated was already fading.

Within four years of its launch, the private equity firm had amassed $1 billion in funds and 260 employees, having turned itself into a PE factory “where investment activities were carried out in a way similar to large-scale industrial production.” Jiuding’s approach focused on getting a company to IPO quickly and leveraging exit multiples available on domestic bourses; and then repeating the process several dozen times over. With IRRs running to 500% or more, an army of copycats emerged as renminbi fundraising jumped 60% year-on-year to $30.1 billion in 2012.

But the average price-to-earnings ratio for ChiNext-listed companies had slipped below 40 by the end of 2011, compared to 129 two years earlier; SME board ratios were also sliding. Already denied the multiples to which they were accustomed, nearly a year later these pre-IPO investors were denied any listings at all as China’s securities regulator froze approvals.

The Harvard Business School case study noted that concerns had been raised about the sustainability of the quick-fire approach, given that some of these GPs appeared to lack the skills and experience to operate in normalized conditions. “The short-term mentality creates volatility,” Vincent Huang, a partner at Pantheon, told AVCJ in October 2011. “A lot of these GPs don’t have real value to add and so they won’t be in the market for the long run.”

Subsequent events have elevated the debate into one of existential proportions for pre-IPO growth capital firms. Listings will return but it is unclear whether they will reach their previous heights: the markets may be more selective and the valuations more muted.

There is also a sense that GPs have been found out lacking a Plan B; renminbi fundraising dropped to $5.1 billion in the second half of 2012. The trend is reflected on the US dollar side as the slowdown in Hong Kong listings over the course of the year left funds with ever decreasing certainty over portfolio exits. If GPs – big or small – face holding a company for longer than expected, what are they going to do with it?

“We value control and we can take advantage of the M&A markets if we have it. We also like the IPO markets here but any investment where we aren’t a controlling shareholder, we can’t set down the timetable for exit,” says H. Chin Chou, CEO of Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia. “We ask ourselves, ‘Do we like holding this investment for five years because there is no IPO? At some point the IPO market will come back but until then you have to be very comfortable holding it.”

More…

 

China Private Equity Secondaries — New York Times, Bloomberg, CNNMoney

Dual

It is imperative for the private equity industry in China to develop an efficient, liquid market for secondaries. Our goal is both to facilitate an active dialogue, as well as help bring this about. Only by breaking the current logjam of no exits in China PE can money again start to flow in significant amounts to capital-hungry private companies. No less than the future fitness of China’s entrepreneurial private sector is at stake.

In the last several days, along with the Wall Street Journal article posted yesterday, five other financial media (New York Times, Bloomberg, AVCJ, PEI, CNN Money) published stories on this topic, referencing research results from China First Capital. I’m pleased to share them.

Private Equity in China: Which Way Out?

HONG KONG — Welcome to the private equity game in China: you can buy in anytime you like, but you can never leave. At least, that is how it is starting to seem for many of the firms that bought in big during the boom of last decade.

Starting from a base of almost nothing in 2000, global private equity funds and their start-up local counterparts rushed into the Chinese market – completing nearly 10,000 deals worth a combined $230 billion from 2001 to 2012, according to a report released this week by China First Capital, a boutique investment bank based in the southern city of Shenzhen.More…

 

Private-equity funds in China are still holding 82 percent of the companies they’ve invested in since 2007, as the frozen market for initial public offerings keeps them from exiting, a study showed.

Funds hold 6,584 companies after disposing of 1,445 and seeing 20 go bankrupt, according to a report from China First Capital, a Shenzhen-based firm that advises on private equity and mergers. Investors still hold companies valued at $94.3 billion, compared with a total of $194.7 billion, according to public data compiled by the firm and its own research. More...

 

 

At least 200 private equity portfolio companies in China are attractive targets for potential secondary buyers and the number is likely to grow 15-25% per year as funds come to the end of their lives and find that exit options are still limited.

These companies represent the cream of a much larger pool of investments that are as yet un-exited by Chinese PE investors, according to a proprietary study by specialist investment bank China First Capital. It estimates that more than 7,500 portfolio companies remain in private equity firms’ portfolios from investments made since 2000.  More…

 

As other exit avenues for private equity dry up in China, GP-to-GP secondaries could be the only option for the 7,500 unexited portfolio
companies, according to a recent study from China First Capital.

China has 7,550 unexited private equity investments totaling $100 billion that will soon have to be realised through routes other than the traditional IPO, according to a recent study from China First Capital.
As fund lives begin to expire, Peter Fuhrman, chairman and chief executive of CFC, believes the standout option will be GP-to-GP secondary transactions. This is especially true for RMB funds, which have a three-to-five year life rather than the ten years typical with US dollar funds. More…

China’s stalled market for new share listings is severely limiting the ability of private equity funds to cash out their
investments in the country, according to a new research report from China First Capital.
The Shenzhen-based investment bank analyzed more than 9,000 private equity and venture capital deals completed in
China since 2001, and found that more than $100 billion — much from the U.S. — remains invested. More…