Download publication

Policy Contribution

Equity finance and capital market integration in Europe

Facilitating the financing of European companies through external equity is a central ambition of European Union financial regulation, including in the European Commission’s capital markets union agenda. Against this background, the authors examine the present use of external equity by EU companies, the roles of listings on public markets, and the regulatory impediments in national laws. They assess to what extent EU market integration has overcome the crucial obstacle of shallow local capital markets.

By: and Date: January 17, 2019 Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation

This material was originally published in a study commissioned by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union. The opinions expressed in this document are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the European Commission. The study is available on the European Commission’s webpage . ©European Union, 2018.

Facilitating the financing of European companies through external equity is a central ambition of European Union financial regulation, including in the European Commission’s capital markets union agenda. An emphasis on equity is justified because Europe’s companies remain vulnerable because they hold excess debt and reliance on bank finance will make capital expenditures highly cyclical. Also, equity investors mobilise operational and corporate governance reforms within investee firms that lift firm productivity.

The share of listed equity in the total balance sheets of EU non-financial companies has expanded, though this is limited to the core euro area, and to large companies. While net funding from listed equity issuance has declined, private equity has rapidly expanded and is back at pre-crisis levels. This is a welcome development because, compared to public equity, private equity is accessed by a wider range of smaller companies.

Firm-level data suggests that the use of external equity is still relatively exceptional. The share of firms using external equity has dropped since the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, when loan conditions tightened. Although overall financing conditions have improved, the perceived gap between needs and availability of equity financing has not narrowed.

The United Kingdom is Europe’s most advanced equity market; other EU countries are considerably less attractive to private equity investors, and there have been no improvements in key policy areas. Specifically, corporate governance practices, such as the rights of minority shareholders, remain an obstacle and underline a reluctance to dilute the control of established owners.

Private equity activity in the EU still shows a strong home bias. Fundraising from outside the private equity firm’s home base, and eventual divestment outside national capital markets, have become marginally more significant, though overall remain quite limited. Government agencies still play an important role in funding, and smaller countries remain particularly constrained by local capital markets.

The European regulation of private equity reflects post-crisis concerns about financial stability risks that are largely unjustified by the industry’s business model. Fragmentation of supervision further complicates cross-border distribution of funds. The exit from the single market of the UK as the home of nearly half the European investor base poses a serious threat to equity funding in the EU. In the context of further capital markets union legislation, the EU should consider greater risk tolerance and harmonised capital requirements.

View comments
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Brexit: a European Odyssey

Nicholas Barrett and Guntram Wolff talk to Kalypso Nicolaïdis, author of Exodus, Reckoning, Sacrifice: Three Meanings of Brexit. Together they discuss the mythology that binds Britain to continental Europe

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: October 11, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Europe: en finir avec la politique en silos

Projetée dans un monde de rapport de force dont les principaux protagonistes ne séparent pas géopolitique et économie, l’UE va devoir conduire un changement de logiciel culturel, une mutation organisationnelle et un rééquipement opérationnel, explique l’économiste Jean Pisani-Ferry.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: October 8, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Thomas Piketty's New Book: Impressive Research, Problematic Solutions

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century blended history, statistics, and theory. Capital and Ideology his new magnum opus, is long enough (1,200 pages) to lump together several books: a quantitative history of inequality through time and space, from medieval Europe and ancient India to present-day societies; a largely noneconomic theory of social stratification; an investigation into the social roots of current populism; and a political manifesto for the European left.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: October 3, 2019
Read article More by this author

Blog Post

Why structural balances should be scrapped from EU fiscal rules

A prominent team from DG ECFIN of the European Commission challenged some of the criticisms of the EU’s methodology for estimating potential output and output gaps, as well as their role in the EU fiscal framework. In this post, I conclude that their responses to the criticisms they considered are questionable. More importantly, they overlook serious problems with the EU’s potential output methodology.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation Date: October 1, 2019
Read article More by this author

Blog Post

Questions on financial services policy for Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President-designate of the European Commission

Completing the banking union is the dominant task in the financial services area for the next five years. In the short term, the Commission should affirm its leadership by pushing for the creation of a credible EU anti-money laundering supervisory agency.

By: Nicolas Véron Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation Date: September 30, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

EU support for SME IPOs should be part of a broader package that unlocks equity finance

The incoming Commission President has put support for SMEs at the centre of her economic programme. A public-private fund investing in initial public offerings should be carefully targeted, primarily at small firms with risky projects. The announced SME strategy and further measures under the Capital Markets Union programme should address numerous other barriers to both public and private equity finance.

By: Alexander Lehmann Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Date: September 16, 2019
Read article Download PDF

Policy Contribution

European Parliament

Hybrid and cybersecurity threats and the European Union’s financial system

The authors document the rise in hybrid threats and cyber attacks in the European Union. Exploring preparations to increase the resilience of the financial system they find that at the individual institutional level, significant measures have been taken, but the EU finance ministers should advance a broader political discussion on the integration of the EU security architecture applicable to the financial system.

By: Maria Demertzis and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament, Finance & Financial Regulation, Testimonies Date: September 12, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Economic priorities for new EU leadership

Europe is no longer in crisis mode. However, it remains vulnerable; it is unprepared and it is procrastinating. Following European elections this May, new leaders are about to take their positions at the main European institutions for the next 5 years. They have the power in their hands to take action. But more importantly, they have the power to convene 28 states, which, if united, can play a significant global role. What are the urgent challenges that require collective European action?

By: Maria Demertzis Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: September 10, 2019
Read article

Blog Post

How long is the head table?

An empirical assessment of concentration in global collective action

By: Jan Mazza and Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Energy & Climate, Global Economics & Governance Date: August 28, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

External Publication

La Banca centrale europea

This external publication delves into the new responsibility given to the European Central Bank: supervision on banks in the euro-area. It tells its history and illustrates its functions, structure and responsibilities and the exceptional answers to respond to the "perfect storm" of the crisis.

By: Francesco Papadia Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 31, 2019
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Talking about Europe: Die Zeit and Der Spiegel 1940s-2010s

An on-going research project is seeking to quantify and analyse printed media discourses about Europe over the decades since the end of the Second World War. A first snapshot screened more than 2.8 million articles in Le Monde between 1944 and 2018. In this second instalment we carry out an analogous exercise on a dataset of more the 500 thousand articles from two German weekly magazines: Die Zeit and Der Spiegel. We also report on the on-going work to refine the quantitative methodology.

By: Enrico Bergamini, Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol, Francesco Papadia and Giuseppe Porcaro Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 18, 2019
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Brief

The European Union energy transition: key priorities for the next five years

The new members of the European Parliament and European Commission who start their mandates in 2019 should put in place major policy elements to unleash the energy transition. It is becoming economically and technically feasible, with most of the necessary technologies now available and technology costs declining. The cost of the transition would be similar to that of maintaining the existing system, if appropriate policies and regulations are put in place.

By: Simone Tagliapietra, Georg Zachmann, Ottmar Edenhofer, Jean-Michel Glachant, Pedro Linares and Andreas Loeschel Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 9, 2019
Load more posts