The Guangdong-HK-Macau Greater Bay Area: Mapping out the Region’s Listed Companies
By Steve Wang*
Given the significance of public listed companies to a local municipality in terms of economy and capital market, we look into the relative strength and competitiveness of each of the cities in the Guangdong-HK-Macau Greater Bay Area (GBA) through mapping out the profiles and characteristics of all the domestic and overseas listed firms from the region.
A total of 557 companies from the GBA are listed on China’s domestic exchanges, while 1,843 GBA firms are listed on the international exchanges (including HK Exchange), including a total of 1,630 HK-registered firms.
Among the domestic listed firms, Shenzhen holds a dominant place with a 55% share, followed by Guangzhou (19%), Foshan (7%), Dongguan (5%), Zhuhai (5%), Zhongshan (4%), Jiangmen (2%), Huizhou (2%) and Zhaoqing (1%). By market cap, Shenzhen enjoys an even stronger position at 67% of the total, illustrating a larger average size of the Shenzhen listed firms.
Among the overseas listed firms (including dual-listed ones), Hong Kong/Macau dominates the table at an 89% share in the total count but only 65% in the total market cap. When excluding the HK/Macau listed firms, Shenzhen again dominates the table with a 50% share in the total count, followed by Guangzhou (24%) and Foshan (6%), or 79% in the total market cap for Shenzhen, followed by Guangzhou (12%) and Foshan (4%).
When looking into the industry profile, we find that larger cities like Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Macau and Zhuhai all have high concentrations of listed firms in the consumer products & services industry, the technology-eccentric TMT industry and the financial services, while smaller cities such as Dongguan, Foshan, Huizhou, Zhaoqing and Jiangmen have higher percentages from industrial firms.
Between HK/Macau and the mainland GBA city group, HK/Macau counts consumer companies as the largest concentration of listed firms, followed by industrial corporations. In contrast, the mainland GBA city group counts industrial corporations as the highest concentration, followed by consumer companies. Both groups have sizable concentrations of listed firms in the TMT and real estate industries, while financial firms (excluding real estate) do make up 10% for HK/Macau, but only 4% for the mainland GBA cities.
Through the perspective of public listed companies, we may be able to shed some light on the outlook of each of the 11 GBA cities in their significance and role to be played for this economic powerbase. HK is expected to continue to be a world-class business and financial centre; Macau to remain a niche and unique player focusing on world-class gaming and entertainment services; Shenzhen to become a world high-tech centre and a regional financial centre complementing HK; Guangzhou to further develop into a key regional business and metro hub; Zhuhai/Zhongshan to develop into a regional business hub complementing and servicing Macau; and the rest of GBA cities to become high-end manufacturing bases.
Public Listed Companies as an Economic Development Indicator
Given the fact that a public listed company generally commands a relatively more visible brand name, better finance flexibility and higher enterprise value, pursuing public listing of their home-based enterprises has always been an economic development policy for Chinese local governments and municipalities. The enhanced fund-raising capacity and public commitment from a listed company should generally serve well for the local governments in terms of employment, tax revenue, city profile, and other economic synergies.
In further details, a listed company has the power to utilise its stocks as a financing vehicle for quick fund raising and asset acquisitions that, in the end, could benefit local business investment and financial position. The wealth effect from a company go listing can also be an important boost to local economy, as the monetisation of share holdings through public listing often creates instant wealth effect from the owners of the listed company, including share-holding senior managers and other employees with stock incentives. In many cases, public floating has become the quickest way for many of the stakeholders of the company to materialise wealth and rise in the wealth rank.
Mapping the Public Listed Companies in the Greater Bay Area (GBA)
The Guangdong-HK-Macau Greater Bay Area boasts a high concentration of listed companies (based on the corporate registration location). They are either listed on the domestic exchanges (Shanghai or Shenzhen Exchanges) or overseas international exchanges (such as HK Exchange, NY exchanges, Singapore Exchange). In some cases, a company may be dual- or multiple listed on different exchanges. A total of 557 firms from GBA are listed on the domestic exchanges, but none are from HK or Macau since domestic exchanges are not yet opened to overseas corporations (see Figure 1). On the other hand, a total of 1,843 GBA firms are listed on the international exchanges, including a total of 1,630 from HK registered firms (see Figures 2&3).
Figure 1. Domestic Listed Companies from the GBA: by Total Number (left) and by Total Market Cap (in RMB bn, right)
For the domestic listed firms from the GBA, Shenzhen holds a dominant position with a 55% share in total, followed by Guangzhou (19%), Foshan (7%), Dongguan (5%), Zhuhai (5%), Zhongshan (4%), Jiangmen (2%), Huizhou (2%) and Zhaoqing (1%). By market cap, Shenzhen enjoys a position even more prominent, making up 67% of the total, followed by Guangzhou (14%), Foshan (8%), Zhuhai (5%), Zhongshan (2%) and others smaller than 2%. Obviously, the average size of Shenzhen listed firms (RMB19.6bn) by market cap is larger than the rest of the GBA (RMB12bn).
For the overseas listed firms from the GBA (including dual listed ones), Hong Kong/Macau registered companies dominate the table (see Figure 2). A majority of these HK/Macau registered firms are HK locally-brewed enterprises (about 1,263), as compared to about 411 firms with parents based in the mainland (mainland background). Although the locally registered HK/Macau firms account for 88% of the total listed stocks in number, they only make up 63% of the pool by market cap. Again, this demonstrates the average market cap of the mainland firms listed on the overseas exchanges (HK$42bn) is larger than that of the HK/Macau firms (HK$9bn).
Figure 2. Overseas Listed Companies from the GBA (Mainland vs. HK/Macau Firms): by Total Number (left) and by Total Market Cap (in HK$ bn, right)
To further illustrate the detailed characteristics of the mainland firms listed on the overseas exchanges, we exclude the HK/Macau listed firms from the data set to redraw the geographic distribution profiles (see Figure 3). Again, Shenzhen dominates the table. By total number, Shenzhen makes up 50% of the group, followed by Guangzhou (24%), Foshan (6%), Dongguan (5%), Huizhou (5%), etc. By market cap, Shenzhen makes up 79%, Guangzhou 12%, Foshan 4%, Huizhou 2%, etc. In other words, Shenzhen not only dominates in the total number of overseas listed firms but also boasts a much larger average size in market cap. We will show this point again later in the discussion of Fortune Global 500 Firms from the GBA, as Shenzhen has more Fortune 500 firms than any of the other GBA cities.
Industry Profile of GBA Listed Firms
We combine the two data sets (domestic and overseas listed firms) of the GBA to look into the industry profiles of these GBA listed companies. Through these profiles we could see the significance of some industry sectors for each of the GBA cities (see Figure 4).
For the larger cities of GBA, such as Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Macau, Zhuhai, the consumer products & services industry, the technology-eccentric TMT industry and the financial services industry make up the big portion of their respective pools of listed firms, while for those smaller cities, such as Dongguan, Foshan, Huizhou, Zhaoqing and Jiangmen, industrial firms represent a large portion.
In the technology-eccentric TMT area, both Shenzhen and Zhuhai boast the highest percentage, demonstrating the significance of technology for their overall economies. Guangzhou, Zhongshan, HK and Zhaoqing also feature sizable percentages.
On the other hand, real estate firms make up a sizable portion of the listed firms for many of the GBA cities and are often more significant than the typical financial sector. This marks the fact that the real estate industry in the GBA is important to the local economies. For example, HK, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Foshan, Shenzhen and Huizhou all see real estate firms making up a good percentage for each of them.
In the aspect of financial firms, Hong Kong boasts the highest percentage. This is naturally expected as HK is truly a global financial centre. Surprisingly, however, Foshan, though by a large distance, also boasts a sizable percentage in this segment, followed by Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Dongguan.
Figure 3. Overseas Listed Companies from the Mainland Cities of GBA: by Total Number (left) and by Total Market Cap (in HK$ bn, right)
Figure 4. Industry Distribution of Listed Firms from the GBA
What are the Listed Firms Telling Us?
We further look into the relative competitive strengths in different industries between the two distinctive groups of the GBA: the special administrative regions of HK & Macau and the mainland cities of the GBA (the rest of GBA), based on their listed companies (see Figure 5).
HK/Macau features consumer companies as the largest group of listed firms, followed by industrial companies. In comparison, Rest of GBA has industrial companies as the largest group of listed firms, followed by consumer companies.
Away from these two largest groups, TMT is the third largest group for both regions, followed by real estate.
However, in HK/Macau, the typical financial firms (excluding real estate) do make up 10% of their listed firms, but for the Rest of GBA they only account for 4%. If we include real estate firms into the broad financial sector, the broad financial sector represents 21% for HK/Macau, but only 11% for the Rest of GBA. Obviously, the financial sector is a much more important corporate base for HK/Macau than Rest of GBA, based on the listed companies.
Figure 5. Industry Profiles of Listed Companies in GBA: HK/Macau (left) vs. Rest of GBA (right)
The Top Listed GBA Firms
We also examine the characteristics of top listed firms from the GBA (by market cap) for more colours on the key business profiles of the region and its cities.
Figure 6 shows the top 20 A-share listed firms from the region. Again, Shenzhen firms dominate the table with a total number of 13, followed by Guangzhou’s 4 and Foshan’s 2. By industry, consumer products & services firms make up the most (7), followed by financials (6) and real estate (3).
Figure 7 shows the top 20 listed firms from HK & Macau. Except two firms from Macau (in gaming/entertainment industry), the rest are all from HK. By industry sector, financials have the most (5), followed by consumer, diversified and real estate industries (all at 3), respectively.
Figure 8 shows the top 20 listed mainland firms from the GBA in the international markets. Again, Shenzhen firms lead the table with 11, followed by Guangzhou’s 5, and 1 for each of the other 4 GBA cities.
Figure 6. Top 20 Listed A-share Firms from the GBA (as of 11 March 2019)
Figure 7. Top 20 HK Listed Firms from HK & Macau (as of 11 March 2019)
Figure 8. Top 20 HK Listed Firms from the GBA excluding HK & Macau (as of 11 March 2019)
The Fortune Global 500 Firms from GBA
We expand our study to the Fortune Global 500 firms for more colours. Chinese enterprises have become a major group of constituents in the annual Fortune Global 500 rank. And their weight in this global enterprise ranking survey continues to grow in recent years. Increasingly, many of them come from the GBA (see Figure 9).
For the ranked firms from the GBA, Shenzhen features more companies in the list than other cities of the region. Besides, its ranked companies were also generally placed higher in the ranking table. Specifically, Shenzhen boasts a total of six firms, followed by five from HK, three from Guangzhou and two from Foshan. In fact, China Evergrande Group has moved its HQ from Guangzhou to Shenzhen recently (in August 2018), and China Resources has also recently built its mainland HQ in Shenzhen, both of which are expected to further boost Shenzhen’s total Fortune Global 500 count in the next ranking survey.
Again, all of these have demonstrated the continuing rising significance and status of Shenzhen among the GBA cities.
Figure 9. 2018 Fortune Global 500 Firms from the GBA
The Case for Each of the GBA cities
Although the public listed companies do not necessarily represent the whole picture of the business and economic status and state of a local municipality, the importance of this subgroup of business and enterprises does offer us some insights into the areas of strength and competitiveness of a city (see Figure 10).
Being an international financial centre and a key capital raising hub for both HK and mainland enterprises, HK is expected to continue to be a world-class business centre attracting companies seeking to list in HK and to set up home base in the city. By this token, HK is expected to continue its leading position in the GBA in having a high congregation of listed firms under its roof. These list firms will continue to span over a wide spectrum of the industry scope, but with a relatively sizable percentage in the financial sector.
Macau is expected to remain a niche and unique player focusing on gaming and entertainment services that offer world-class consumer experience for tourists from China and around the world.
Next in line is Shenzhen, which also has a sizable concentration of listed companies only after HK, thanks to its advantage as the first Chinese special economic zone, the home for China’s second largest stock exchange, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, and a highly opened market. Shenzhen’s meteoric economic rise in modern Chinese history has greatly benefited from, not only the preference policies as a special economic zone, but also from a combination of other important reasons, such as its close proximity to HK, early experience from this neighbour city, the inter-city flows through economic, capital, investment and citizen exchanges between Shenzhen and HK.
Shenzhen has already demonstrated its power base in both financial and TMT industries, as the city features more Fortune Global 500 firms in these two industries than any of the other GBA cities does, including HK. We expect Shenzhen, among the GBA cities, will continue to lead in the technology-eccentric TMT industry, as well as other high-tech industries (AI, semi, healthcare, etc.), to become a world high-tech centre in the future, while also building up a regional financial centre complementing HK.
Guangzhou is expected to further develop into a key regional business and metro hub for the GBA and the southern China with its strengths in manufacturing, consumer, high-techs and real estate.
Zhuhai, plus its satellite neighbour Zhongshan, is expected to develop into a regional business hub complementing and servicing the city of Macau,
For the rest of GBA cities, most of them are expected to become high-end manufacturing bases for both China and the world, with increasing focuses on the high-value end of the supply chain and the downstream end closer to consumers.
Figure 10. Future Perspective for the GBA Cities
*Steve Wang, Managing Director and Deputy Head of Research, Bank of China International;Senior Research Fellow of IMI. email@example.com