By tracing the identity of large shareholders, we group China’s listed companies into those controlled by state asset management bureaus (SAMBs), state owned enterprises (SOEs) affiliated to the central government (SOECGs), SOEs affiliated to the local government (SOELGs), and Private investors. We argue that these distinct types of owners have different objectives and motivations and this will affect how they exercise their control rights over the firms they invest in. In particular, we contend that private ownership of listed firms in China is not necessarily superior to certain types of state ownership. To test our arguments we investigate the relative efficiency of state versus private ownership of listed firms and the efficiency of various forms of state ownership. The empirical results indicate that the operating efficiency of Chinese listed companies varies across the type of controlling shareholder. SOECG controlled firms perform best and SAMB and Private controlled firms perform worst. SOELG controlled firms are in the middle. The results are consistent with our predictions.
- State versus private ownership; Large shareholders; Ownership structure