Venture capital investment in mainland China experienced a decline during the fourth quarter, with companies raising $854 million, a drop of 42% from the same period a year ago, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. The number of deals completed over the three month period also fell, by 52% to 39 in total.
Overall in 2012, investment declined by 40% from 2011 levels to $3.7 billion, with the number of deals falling by 44% to 202. China stayed ahead of the U.K. in terms of investment, where companies raised €1.4 billion, but not in deal flow, as the U.K. completed 295 deals. Europe as a whole collected €4.4 billion in 1074 deals. The U.S. raised $29.7 billion for 3,363 deals.
So far, 2011 has been the highest year on record for investment in mainland China, with US$6.2 billion deployed across 362 deals over that 12-month period.
“Although the decline of VC investments during 2012 follows similar trends to those recorded in 2008, the key difference was that last year the share of profitable companies to receive VC funding was much smaller than it was five years ago," says Guido Schenk, Asia Pacific sales director for Dow Jones VentureSource. "Given that companies need to be profitable prior to IPO in China, it is unlikely that 2012 VC investments will lead to the same boom of IPOs that we witnessed between 2009 and 2011."
In addition, IPOs as a main exit route for Chinese VC investments showed a sharp decline in the fourth quarter, where only three IPOs were recorded; a fifth of the number recorded in the same period a year earlier. From these, only $167 million was raised, the lowest number in China since 2009, and just 10% of the amount raised in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Continuing Investment Declines for Most Industry Groups
Investment in Consumer Services, the leading industry for venture capital in China, declined by 35% to $591 million during the fourth quarter of 2012. Deal flow declined by 59% to 17 deals completed.
Despite receiving 55% of all venture capital invested in China during 2012, overall Consumer Services investment and deal flow declined by 42% and 44% respectively from 2011, with $2 billion collected in 96 deals.
Information technology (IT) managed to secure the second largest allocation, despite a 46% decline in investment and a 39% drop in the number of completed deals year-over-year.
The industry collected $536 million for 43 deals. This decline was due largely to a weak fourth quarter in which investment amounted to $34 million for 6 deals, a respective 83% and 63% drop from the same quarter a year earlier.
Financial Services Rounds Out a Strong Year
Investment in business and financial services companies defied the downturn during the year with the industry collecting $458 million, a 2% uptick from 2011.
Deal activity fell, however, by 41% to 27 completed. The uptick in investment was a result of a strong year for the financial institutions and services sector, in which seven venture capital deals amassed $203 million.
Investment in the healthcare industry fell in 2012, with 11 deals collecting $179 million, a respective drop of 15% and 45% from 2011 figures.
Biopharmaceuticals, the dominant industry segment, experienced a drop of 68% in capital invested and 29% in deals completed, with companies raising $85 million in a total of five deals. In contrast, medical devices and equipment companies managed to garner $70 million for four venture capital deals, doubling the equivalent figures for 2011.
Energy and utility companies also experienced substantial drops in venture capital invested during 2012. The industry collected $58 million, a decrease of 48% from 2011. Deal flow halved from eight in 2011 to four completed for 2012.