The Rise of US-Listed VIEs from China: Balancing State Control and Access to Foreign Capital

56 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2018  

Justin Hopkins

University of Virginia – Darden Graduate School of Business Administration

Mark H. Lang

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jianxin (Donny) Zhao

Emory University

Date Written: February 7, 2018

Abstract

We investigate Chinese firms’ use of variable interest entities (VIEs) to evade Chinese regulation on foreign ownership and list in the US. VIEs are explicitly designed to circumvent the intent of Chinese law on foreign control, and potentially exacerbate agency conflicts within the firm. We find that the use of VIEs is widespread and growing, and estimate that it is associated with valuation discounts of as much as 30% relative to Chinese non-VIE firms listed in the US. The discount varies predictably with events that change the risk of government intervention and managerial malfeasance, and is tempered by better oversight (large auditor and institutional investment) and lower regulatory risk (politically connected directors and high media visibility). To protect shareholders, VIE firms are more likely to have these characteristics as well as to curry government favor by contributing to disaster relief and hiring excess employees.

Keywords: Corporate governance, investor protection, variable interest entities, market regulation

JEL Classification: G30, G34, M41, K22

Suggested Citation

Hopkins, Justin and Lang, Mark H. and Zhao, Jianxin (Donny), The Rise of US-Listed VIEs from China: Balancing State Control and Access to Foreign Capital (February 7, 2018). Darden Business School Working Paper No. 3119912. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3119912 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3119912

Justin Hopkins (Contact Author)

University of Virginia – Darden Graduate School of Business Administration ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Mark H. Lang

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ( email )

Kenan-Flagler Business School
McColl Building
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490
United States
919-962-1644 (Phone)
919-962-4727 (Fax)

Jianxin (Donny) Zhao

Emory University ( email )

464 Goizueta Business School
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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