Business / Economy

Chinese firms look for acquisitions

By Hu Yuanyuan ( Updated: 2012-05-09 14:32

Around one third of Chinese companies are planning to grow through acquisitions over the next three years, accounting firm Grant Thornton said in a report on Wednesday.

Although the proportion is a decrease from 45 percent last year due to the economic slowdown, it is still higher than the 26 percent in 2010, according to the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report 2012.

When asked about sources of growth capital in the next three years, nearly half of the businesses (43 percent) chose "don't know", rising steeply from 23 percent last year. The businesses see increasing uncertainties in financing.

Retained earnings and bank finance are still the main financing channels for businesses, down to 42 percent this year from 57 percent in 2011.

The willingness of businesses to undertake an initial public offering is 18 percent, lower than the 24 percent last year but higher than the global average (5 percent).

"Shortage of working capital is always a bottleneck for the development of small and medium enterprises and would be more serious this year with the slowdown of the economy and tightened policies," said Xu Hua, the chief managing partner and chief executive officer of Grant Thornton in China.

The pressure would be relieved, though, because government has put forward a series of supporting policies for the financing of small and medium enterprises. The businesses themselves should manage their credit well and learn more about specialized financing knowledge to actively broaden their financing channels, he added.

The report also reveals that 92 percent of acquisition-minded businesses in China's mainland expect to expand through domestic acquisitions, reflecting the fact that the majority of businesses are still focusing on the domestic market. 26 percent of businesses on China's mainland are planning cross-border acquisitions, in line with the proportion of last year. This remains the highest level since 2008, demonstrating a stable overseas interest in investing in China.

"Given the 'bottom-fish' opportunities brought by the sluggish European economy, more China businesses should be encouraged to 'go out'. And for those businesses having built up strengths under relatively stabilized domestic economic conditions, cross-border acquisitions could lead to market expansion and bring in new technologies and help businesses achieve further growth," Xu said.

The regions that most interested in making an acquisition in the next three years are North America (37 percent) and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies (35 percent). Despite the fact that only 28 percent of businesses in mainland Europe having acquisition interests, 44 percent of these businesses expect to grow through cross-border transactions, putting it top globally. This reflects the fact that European businesses, lacking confidence within the region, are seeking opportunities in high-growth markets, according to the report.

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