Financial Foreign Direct Investment: The Role of Private Equity Investments in the Globalization of Firms from Emerging Markets

By Agmon, Tamir; Messica, Avi | Management International Review, January 2009 | Go to article overview

Financial Foreign Direct Investment: The Role of Private Equity Investments in the Globalization of Firms from Emerging Markets


Agmon, Tamir, Messica, Avi, Management International Review


Abstract and Key Results:

* One major change in the world of international business and finance is the growing role of private equity investments in firms in emerging markets. In little more then four years, since 2003, the money raised by international, primarily American private equity funds for investment in emerging markets went up about ten times, from $3.5B to $35B.

* This paper provides a multidimensional analysis and discussion on the role of private equity funds in the globalization process of firms from emerging markets. The discussion begins with development economics, focusing on financial markets development and sector specific capital, proceeds to a discussion of local comparative advantage and intangible trade costs in the process of globalization, and continues with a discussion of imperfect contracts and financial contracting based on recent research in financial economics.

* The multidimensional character of the research is congruent with the nature of globalization and international business. Investment of private equity funds in emerging markets is shown as a new form of foreign direct investment dubbed FFDI (financial foreign direct investment).

Keywords: Emerging Markets * Financial Markets Development * FDI * Globalization

Introduction

International business and economic development are closely related. When applying to emerging markets, foreign direct investment (FDI) and development economics are two sides of the same coin. In terms of the classical OLI model of the economics of international business, the multinational enterprises (MNE) brings into play the ownership advantage while the governments of emerging markets bring into play the location advantage (Dunning 2000). For most part, the economics and the strategy of international business focused on the MNE while economic geography from Koopman (1957) to Krugman (1991) and later (as well as development economics) have focused on the country in which the investment takes place.

This paper brings together international business development economics and international trade to gain better insights into an important and fascinating phenomenon in the arena of international business--the recent growth of private equity investments in emerging markets. The tremendous growth of private equity investments in emerging markets is evident from the data presented in Table 1. The total went up almost ten times, from about $3.5B to more than $33B in the period 2003-2006. Emerging Asia led the emerging markets with $19.4B raised in 2006 by 93 funds; about a third of the money that was raised by these funds went to China and India.

The main argument that is presented and discussed in this paper is that private equity investments in emerging markets is another expression of foreign direct investment (FDI) where firms from the developed countries export specific factors of production (their ownership advantage) to small countries and emerging markets (new locations) as a way to generate value to all stakeholders. The firms in the developed countries in this case are specialized financial institutions (private equity funds) (Yoshikawa et al. 2006) and the factor of production that they export is high-risk sector specific capital. We dubbed this form of FDI as financial foreign direct investment (FFDI), but the process and the rational are the same as in the classical FDI analysis. FFDI (synonymous--but not restricted to--for private equity throughout this paper) is a subset of FDI that is solely devoted--as the name implies--for investments in private firms in purpose of generating high return-on-investment over a relatively short period (5-7 years). The term "short" is relative and in comparison with the typical investment periods of the investors of private equity funds (e.g., pension funds, endowment funds and the like). At the extreme, i.e., in venture capital investments, investors take into account upfront that some of their investments will be written off at the prospects that few will generate return that will more than compensate those sunk investments (hence the "high-risk" referral).

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