Scholarly article on topic 'IPO in Private Equity Finance: Evidence from Poland'

IPO in Private Equity Finance: Evidence from Poland Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Andrzej Sołoma

Abstract The purpose of this article is to explore the factors that influence the decision of venture capital and private equity managers to go public in Polish capital market. Research methods cover the comparative analysis of scientific literature documents and reports as well as statistic data. A questionnaire survey was used as one method of data collection. Research results indicate that in Poland as well in the CEE region, the most common exit route for venture capital and private equity-backed companies is trade sale. However, initial public offering (IPO) exit is generally the most preferred by private equity fund managers.

Academic research paper on topic "IPO in Private Equity Finance: Evidence from Poland"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 213 (2015) 358 - 363

20th International Scientific Conference Economics and Management - 2015 (ICEM-2015)

IPO in private equity finance: evidence from Poland

Andrzej Solomaa *

a University of Warmia and Mazury, Oczapowskiego 4,Olsztyn 10-957, Poland

Abstract

The purpose of this article is to explore the factors that influence the decision of venture capital and private equity managers to go public in Polish capital market. Research methods cover the comparative analysis of scientific literature documents and reports as well as statistic data. A questionnaire survey was used as one method of data collection. Research results indicate that in Poland as well in the CEE region, the most common exit route for venture capital and private equity-backed companies is trade sale. However, initial public offering (IPO) exit is generally the most preferred by private equity fund managers. © 2015 The Authors. PublishedbyElsevierLtd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of Kaunas University of Technology, School of Economics and Business Keywords: Poland; Venture capital; Private equity; Divestment; IPO.

Introduction

Venture Capital (VC) and Private Equity (PE) constitute an asset class where institutional investors provide capital to enterprises not quoted on the stock market. According to the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EVCA) private equity includes the following investments stages: VC, growth capital, replacement capital, rescue/ turnaround and buyouts. VC is a subset of private equity and refers to equity investments made to support the early stage development phases of a business. Venture capital firms specialize in investing in non-public early stage new ventures in return for a stake in the ownership and a share of the profits. VC is characterized by illiquid equity investments involving high degrees of information asymmetries. Due to the structure of the private equity industry, in which closed-end funds are often used, the VC/PE investments have to be liquidated after some time to return the proceeds to the investors. Private equity firms have five primary types of exit strategies at their disposal when attempting to realize the value created over the holding period of an investment: Initial Public

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +48 895245155 E-mail address: soloma@uwm.edu.pl

1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of Kaunas University of Technology, School of Economics and Business doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.11.551

Offerings (IPOs), trade sale to another company, secondary sales (e.g. a sale to another financial investor), buybacks and write-offs (end of activity or sale of remaining assets). The purpose of this article is to explore the factors that influence the decision of venture capital and private equity managers to go public in Polish capital market.

Studying the behaviour of Poland PE choice of exit channel is important because this country represents the most developed private equity and venture capital market in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), evidenced by three major activities: fundraising, investing and exiting. To gain some further understanding of the role of PE involvement with their portfolio firms, this paper focuses on the fundamental question related to the underlying drivers and management processes that affect actual exit routes in the CCE region.

1. Literature review

There is recognition in the literature that venture capital investments are risk intensive, thus, the investments' liquidation opportunities become one of the key issue in the venture capital investment process (Snieska & Venckuviene, 2011). Risk is inherently associated with the essence of PE funds operations that involve the engagement of investors' own resources in other enterprises. During such cooperation, PE funds are exposed to two basic risk types: market risk and agency risk (Fiet, 1995). Market risk results from the unpredictability of such factors as: range and dynamics of the demand for the product, competitors' activities, and potential in market development. Agency risk is associated with the so-called agency conflict, which appears when the owner's and the agent's aims are at odds. The basic sources generating agency risk include differences of opinions of capital providers from VC funds and the enterprise's founders as regards the managing of the enterprise, as well as insufficient competences of and searching for side profits by entrepreneurs who can still make decisions in the enterprise. For example, by making overly optimistic estimates of the firm's revenues, the managers may try to inflate the expected value of the firm, which in turn increases their rewards from the IPO (Bruton et al. 2010).

Cummming and Johan (2014) note that there are two fundamental exit routes for successful entrepreneurial firms backed by VCs; initial public offerings (IPOs) and acquisitions (sometimes referred to as a trade sales). Gerasymenko and Arthurs (2014) emphasize that IPO is, in general, a more standardized procedure with requirements that are relatively clear from the outset than is a trade sale process that may vary on a case-by-case basis. Determining whether to go public or not involves a number of factors. For instance, exit patterns vary depending on market conditions in the exit year, the characteristics of the PE investor, the stage of financing and the industry and country of a portfolio company (Soloma, 2014). Moore et al. (2012) emphasized the importance of the IPO because it represents a significant shift in the strategic choices open to the firm. IPOs give firms expanded access to capital, allowing them to continue growth, expand and improve company image and increase shareholder liquidity. More importantly, IPOs are the exit channel for the most successful ventures (Bertoni & Groh, 2014). Carrying out an IPO benefits both the entrepreneur and the venture capitalist. PE funds typically maintain a certain portion of their companies' shares at the time of the IPO and they benefit from any post-IPO increases in a portfolio company's value. Unlike a sale to a third party (particularly to a strategic buyer), the management team, enhanced by incentive compensation devices such as stock options, are more likely to support an exit through an IPO. Meluzin & Zinecker (2014) suggest that the companies often choose this form of financing to raise the necessary capital and to gain a non-financial advantage from IPO implementation, such as the greater attention that the media pay to publicly traded companies. Furthermore, entrepreneurs have a nonpecuniary preference for being the CEO of a publicly traded firm (Cumming & Johan, 2014).

With respect to exiting via the IPO market, there is also an important aspect of the venture capitalists reputation. VCs are identifiable players in the IPO market who are typically engaged in IPO markets more than once during their economic lifetime. VC managers' abilities to raise additional funds depend on their reputations with investors, by means of realizing a successful IPO with high returns as soon as possible. These venture capitalists build a reputation for selling high-quality ventures at their true value and not reporting falsely on the quality of their ventures (Neus & Walz, 2005). Reputation is generally considered essential in the PE industry because IPOs are sold to a large number of diverse shareholders, many of whom do not have the time, inclination or expertise to carry out due diligence on the quality of the firm being sold. As argued by Cumming and Johan (2008), IPOs are typically the most difficult exit outcome to achieve, as information asymmetries are the most difficult to overcome. Cumming, Fleming and Schwienbacher (2006) find that an active stock market and the quality of the legal

environment facilitate exit via IPO. Black and Gilson (1998) as well Kaplan and Schoar (2005) stress that well-developed stock markets are crucial for exit strategies via IPOs. Giot and Schwienbacher (2007) also find that local stock market conditions have a positive impact on IPOs. As noted by Jeng and Wells (2000), divesting is more difficult, and less likely to be successful in countries with illiquid capital markets.

Hursti and Maula (2007) examine the factors affecting foreign IPOs by European companies. The authors note that foreign investors bring additional experience to the local PE market. They also argue that firms backed by an international syndicate of VC investors are more likely to go public on a foreign exchange. Lewis (2011), using a sample of UK IPOs, finds evidence that PE-backed IPOs at the time of flotation are larger in terms of market capitalization, total assets, and sales are more profitable, maintain higher levels of debt, and are less underpriced than other IPOs. Recent research revealed that the overall earnings management in CEE region is rather favorable for the CEE investors as earnings manipulation is on a rather low level, based on the accruals analysis and comparison of net income to operating cash flow (Bistrova & Lace, 2012). There is also evidence that the financial sector influences economic growth of the region (Lakstutiene, Krusinskas & Platenkoviene, 2011). Rupeika-Apoga (2014) reports that SMEs' access to alternative financing (business angels, venture capital funds, different government support programs seed funding and crow-finding) in the Baltic States is improving.

2. Method

This article starts with the pre-existing literature review in order to examine the potential factors that might affect PE exit outcomes in terms IPOs. Research methods cover the comparative analysis of scientific literature documents and reports as well as statistic data. The statistical data used in the article has been based on publications of the Polish Private Equity Association and reports of the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association. Moreover, the intent of this research required to collect primary data. A questionnaire survey was used as one method of data collection. To collect the data, surveys were mailed to all members of the Polish Private Equity Association - representing private equity and venture capital firms in Poland. Of the 47 managers initially contacted, 26 agreed to participate, a 55 percent acceptance rate.

3. Results

Private equity and Venture capital funds have been present in Poland for over 20 years. Poland alone accounted for the largest share of investments in the region in 2013, in keeping with the previous three years. This country attracted €380m or 49% of the total amount invested in Central and Eastern Europe (Central and Eastern Europe Statistics. An EVCA Special Paper, 2014).

Private equity is distinguished by active management in order to make a profit by enhancing the fundamental value of the private companies in which it invests. Exit is the ultimate objective of all private equity investors to realize the return on their investment. The exit decision features two important dimensions: the type of exit route and the timing of the exit. The cooperation between the PE fund and the enterprise lasts generally 3-7 years after the initial investment in the case of Poland (Wolak-Tuzimek et al. 2015). The rate of return on PE investment depends, among others, on such factors as: investment period, the way of exit and the enterprise valuation at the point of divestment. In the years 2008 through 2013, in terms of the number of exited companies, Poland led the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region with 126 companies (Table 1). Exit patterns varied depending on market conditions in the exit year, the characteristics of the PE investor, the stage of financing and the industry. In 2009, IPO was the most important exit method, accounting for 45% of total exit value by amount divested at cost in Poland. The country has historically experienced very few write-offs. An exception was the year 2010, when writeoffs accounted for 47% of total exit value (Table 1).

In 2011, IPO exits more than doubled by value at cost to € 36,7m, compared to € 14,3m in 2009. Divestment by public offering was near zero percent of exit value in 2012. This contrasts sharply with the fact that Warsaw Stock Exchange registered the largest number of IPOs among all European exchanges in 2012. The total number of IPOs (105) which occurred in Warsaw represented 40% of all IPOs in Europe in 2012 (Table 2). A very small part of

exits via public market in 2012 in Poland can partly be explained by timing issues and low liquidity of shares on the Warsaw Stock Exchange compared with the large stock exchanges.

Table 1. Exits in Poland, 2008-2013 (exit value at investment cost; in € million).

Exit route 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

N* € N*""

4 230.0 11

1 18.3 7

1 18.3 7

1 7.0 1 1 0 0

0 0.6 3

3 24.9 12

2 3.9 4 8 0 0

21 284.7 38

* Number of companies Source: Own research based on EVCA YEARBOOK 2013.

Poland was largest market in the region for exits in 2013 with € 285m of divestments at cost (38% of total exit value across the CEE). For Poland, it was the largest year for exits on record since 2002. In 2013, trade sale (80,7% of total) and sale to financial institution (8,7% of total) stood out as the two most prominent exit routes (Table 1). Similarly, trade sale was also the largest exit route in the CEE region , but it amounted to 61% of divestments by value (Central and Eastern Europe Statistics. An EVCA Special Paper, 2014). This is consistent with prior periods in CEE in that trade sale remains by far the most common exit route. Even though there was no new private equity-backed IPO in 2013, Poland recorded more secondary share sales, with the number of companies sold in this manner rising year-on-year from one to seven.

Table 2. Number and value of IPOs on European exchanges in 2012-2013 (total alternative and regulated markets).

Exchange 2012 2013

Number of IPOs Value (in EUR million) Number of IPOs Value (in EUR million)

Warsaw Stock 105 731 54 1134

Exchange

LSE Group 79 5307 119 15928

Deutsche Boerse 25 2141 4 2409

NYSE Euronext 19 1038 26 2994

Nasdaq OMX 17 48 31 876

Luxembourg 7 564 7 35

Spain (BME) 5 9 2 2

Switzerland 4 801 1 745

Oslo 4 291 11 941

Source: PwC,IPO Watch Europe,Q1, Q2,Q3and Q4 2012,2013 Reports (available at:http://www.pwc.plpl/ipo-watch-europe/index.jhtml).

€ N* € N* € N* € N* €

Divestment by trade sale 16.6 3 6.3 3 7.3 4 124.9 7 6.3

IPO: 0.2 1 14.3 4 0.6 2 36.7 5 0.5

a/ Divestment on flotation (IPO) 0.2 1 0 0 0 0 22.7 3 0

b/ Sale of quoted equity 0 0 14.3 4 0.6 2 14.0 2 0.5

Divestment by write-off 2.1 2 0 0 36.4 1 0 0 7.1

Repayment of silent partnerships 14.4 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0

Repayment of principal loans 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.4 1 0

Sale to another private equity house 27.0 4 0.6 2 13.2 3 4.1 3 16.5

Sale to financial institution 0.1 1 9.9 2 0.1 1 10.8 6 3.6

Sale to management (MBO) 3.6 5 0 0 19.6 4 3.5 2 6.1

Divestment by other means 5.1 2 0.3 2 0 0 0 0 12.7

Total 69.1 18 31.4 9 77.2 16 180.4 24 52.8

A questionnaire survey was used as one method of data collection. The survey was conducted in January -February 2015. The questionnaire items were sourced from studies reported in the private equity literature. The first research question sought to determine the most preferred forms of divestment. The results of a questionnaire survey carried out among managers representing private equity and venture capital firms in Poland show that the most preferred forms of divestment are IPO (54% respondents) and sale to a strategic investor (46%). A questionnaire survey was asking respondents, among others, to indicate on a 5-point scale, the factors influencing the most preferred exit channels. The factors were presented using a one- to five-point Likert scale, where 1 represented "strongly favors" and 5 represented "strongly disfavors". The factors that affect a PE managers exit decision are summarized in Table 3.

Table 3. Summary of factors influencing the most preferred exit channels.

IPO Trade sale

Favorable local stock market conditions 1.42 3.26

Favorable stock market regulations, investor protection, taxation and costs associated with the going public 1.38 3.11

process

Transaction-specific characteristics (control rights of the VC firm, financial contracts) 4.26 1.42

Syndicates between local and international investors 1.38 2.11

Deal opportunities: prospective strategic acquirers interested in the acquisition of the target firm 4.46 1.23

Transactions synergies 1.38 2.11

Reputational incentives 1.23 2.15

New capital raising for a firm 1.30 4.23

Net exit value (current value of a company- price paid for it) 1.42 2.15

1= strongly favors, 2=favors, 3= neutral, 4= disfavors, 5= strongly disfavors Source: survey results.

The results of survey indicate that favorable local stock market conditions have a significant impact on the IPO probability (Table 3). PE managers first target the IPO as the preferred way of cashing out on investments because this exit route being the most preferred in terms of upside potential. This can partly be explained by the fact that IPOs are "underpriced" in the short run. There is evidence that the first day-day return on new issues is on average positive, regardless of the country (Cumming & Johan, 2014). However, the stock exchange must offer certain liquidity and attractive listing conditions and only the most promising firms are able to tap the IPO market.

Private equity has a long tradition of syndicating deals and spreading the risk by attracting additional investors. The results of survey show that syndicates between local and international investors are more likely to be associated with IPO. Yet, deal opportunities (e.g. prospective strategic buyers interested in the acquisition of the target firm), favor trade sales.

Conclusions

The results of this study made it possible to formulate new insights as contributions towards a better understanding of private equity exit strategies under specific conditions of the Central and Eastern Europe. Poland represents the most developed private equity and venture capital market in Central and Eastern Europe. Poland was largest market in the region for exits in 2013 with € 285m of divestments at cost. In the years 2008 through 2013, in terms of the number of exited companies, Poland led the CEE region with 126 companies. Research results indicate that in Poland as well in the CEE region, the most common exit route for venture capital and private equity-backed companies is trade sale. However, IPO exit is generally the most preferred by private equity fund managers in Poland. Divesting via IPO vary depending on stock market conditions in the exit year, the company-level factors such as the perceived "quality" and the company valuation at the point of divestment. With respect to exiting via the IPO market, there is also an important aspect of the venture capitalists reputation. VC managers' abilities to raise

additional funds depend on their reputations with investors, by means of realizing a successful IPO with high returns as soon as possible.

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