Regional Disparities in the Provision of Equity Finance: An Analysis

Key Findings/ results Analysis of the regional distribution of equity finance Our descriptive analysis of the equity investment activity in the UK from 2011 to 2017 confirms results of previous studies in that London, the South East and East of England regions received in that period 67% of all equity deals and 75% of all […]

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Regional Disparities in the Provision of Equity Finance: An Analysis

Key Findings/ results

Analysis of the regional distribution of equity finance

Our descriptive analysis of the equity investment activity in the UK from 2011 to 2017 confirms results of previous studies in that London, the South East and East of England regions received in that period 67% of all equity deals and 75% of all invested funds in the UK. The concentration in London has increased over time since the region has the highest average annual growth rate in equity investments (in both number of deals and invested amounts).

The three regions (London, South East and East of England) received higher proportions of equity investments in the UK than expected based on the number of high-growth firms (HGFs) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in 2011-2017. Scotland received higher number of deals but not invested amounts.

The detailed econometric analysis of firm-level data explaining the determinants of equity funding revealed that, after controlling for a wide range of firm and industry specific variables, the probability of a firm getting funded is lower in all regions outside London, with the exception of Scotland. More specifically, the odds ratios that an identical company in a given region will get equity funding compared to London are the following (in descending order): Scotland (1.24), North East (1.01), Northern Ireland (0.96 – not significant), Wales (0.85 – not significant), East of England (0.80), South East (0.77), South West (0.70), North West (0.65), West Midlands (0.54), Yorkshire and Humberside (0.53), East Midlands (0.51).

Moreover, the analysis showed that after controlling for a wide range of variables related to the financial and non-financial situation of a company (financial ratios, size, age, charges on assets), directors’ characteristics, industry sectors’ failure rate and macroeconomic environment, directors’ previous experience of equity finance is associated with significantly higher odds of obtaining equity finance. On the contrary, family firms have on average smaller odds of obtaining equity finance.

The econometric analysis of individual equity deal size (deal value) showed that all else equal, compared to London, in other regions the deal values are lower by up to 41%: East of England (-9% – not significantly different from zero, i.e. deal values similar to London), South East (-14%), Northern Ireland (-16% – not significant), Scotland (-20%), Wales (-20%), South West (-25%), North West (-27%), East Midlands (-27%), West Midlands (-29%), Yorkshire and Humberside (-35%), North East (-41%). The models controlled for a range of variables related to the financial and non-financial situation of a company (financial ratios, size, age), deal characteristics (announcement, government involvement, stage), industry sector and macroeconomic environment. Thus the differences in equity finance provision between London and other regions are further deepened by the differences in firm-level deal values.

Analysis of equity finance supply in the regions

An analysis of investor-investee pairs revealed that investors located in Northern Ireland, North West, Wales, North East and London invest most of their funds in their home region. The percentages of funds invested in the head office region (in descending order) are: Northern Ireland (93%), North West (70%), Wales (66%), North East (52%), London (52%), South East (49%), Scotland (45%), East of England (45%), Yorkshire and Humberside (24%), West Midlands (21%), East Midlands (19%), and South West (14%).

Overseas investors invest about 84% of their funds into companies located in London, East of England and South East. The percentages (in descending order) of overseas funds invested into companies with a primary trading address in particular regions are: London (60%), East of England (13%), South East (11%), South West (4%), North West (3%), Scotland (3%), North East (2%), West Midlands (2%), Yorkshire and Humberside (1%), Wales (1%), East Midlands (1%), and Northern Ireland (0.2%).

The proportions of company-investor pairs involving government (local, regional, devolved, or central) are the following (in descending order): North East (53.4%), Wales (39%), North West (34.6%), Yorkshire and Humberside (33.9%), Scotland (33.4%), Northern Ireland (28.4%), West Midlands (27.5%), East Midlands (9.3%), East of England (7.3%), London (5.1%), South East (8.3%) and the South West (5.1%).

Analysing distances between investor and invested company we find support for the spatial proximity hypothesis that the number of equity investments decreases with the distance from the investor. The frequency of equity deals decreases with the distance between the invested company and the nearest investor’s office. The exceptions to this rule are investors headquartered in Yorkshire and Humberside, West Midlands and East Midlands since they fund a relatively large number of deals further from their nearest offices. The pattern persists also after excluding government-backed funds.

Private investors are more likely to fund an equity deal outside their head office or branch office region if government is involved as a syndicated investor or if a director has past experiences with equity finance. In both cases the odds of equity investment from private investors located outside a focal firm’s region increases by about 20%, after controlling for deal value, investor type, announcement, stage and macroeconomic environment.

Analysis of the demand for equity finance in the regions

Using the propensity score matching methodology we identified companies that share similar characteristics to those that have received equity finance. These firms are potential targets for equity investors. Then for these targeted companies we imputed deal values based on the characteristics of known deals. The sum of the deal values forms the estimate of the potential additional demand for equity finance (i.e. the ‘equity gap’) and is compared with actual stock of equity investments in regions.

The ranking of regions in terms of the potential demand for equity finance in 2011-2017 shows that the highest potential additional demand for equity finance was in Yorkshire and Humberside, followed by East Midlands, West Midlands, Northern Ireland, South West, North West, Wales, Scotland, South East, East of England, London and North East. (The presented order is on the basis of the potentially invested amounts imputed by the regression approach per one million pounds of actual equity investment, but the order remains virtually unchanged if other measures are used).

Using the plausible parameters to account for proportion of companies seeking expansion, willingness to take equity investor and the acceptance rate of equity funders we provide estimates of the aggregate ‘equity gap’ i.e. the total shortfall of equity funding in the economy. The most conservative estimates suggest that the size of the aggregate ‘equity gap’ is of the order of £0.96bn-£1.78bn.

The greatest additional demand in absolute terms seems to be in London (£337 mil – £625 mil), followed by the South East (£148 mil – £274 mil), the East of England and North West (£79 mil – £146 mil each), and the South West (£70 mil – £130 mil). The West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside and East Midlands have a similar situation in that the potential ‘equity gap’ is approximately in the range £47 mil – £108 mil. Scotland follows closely after them (£47 mil – £88 mil). The lowest volumes of potential additional demand for equity funding seem to be in Wales (£20 mil – £37 mil), North East (£12 mil – £23 mil) and Northern Ireland (£11 mil – £19 mil). In relative terms, the highest relative demand for the additional equity funding in relation to the actual stock is in the East Midlands (79%-147%), followed by Yorkshire and Humberside (54%-100%), West Midlands (46%-85%) and Northern Ireland (37%-69%). At the other end of the spectrum are London (7%-14%) and the North East (9%-17%).