In March 2013, the Shipston Group, the family office of billionaire industrialist Michael D. Dingman, was considering a private equity investment in the SuDa Electric Vehicle Company (SuDa), a rapidly growing maker of electric bicycles (e-bikes) in the People's Republic of China (PRC). This field-based case explores the differences between investments that are funded through a family office compared to a more traditional committed fund. Shipston began investing in the PRC in 2005, focusing on China-for-China investments, and in sectors that would benefit from the continued expansion of the Chinese middle class. Over the past decade, the PRC had experienced rapid growth in the number of individuals moving from the rural areas to the cities in search of better employment. As a result, the cities had grown much larger, often necessitating long distances between an employee's residence and place of work. The dual trends of urbanization and industrialization had also resulted in heavily polluted cities and an overwhelmed public transportation system. E-bikes provided an affordable and energy-efficient means of transportation that appealed to this new group of urban settlers.
After several rounds of due diligence, Shipston is evaluating whether it should invest CNY37.8 million (USD6.0 million) for a 10% equity stake in SuDa. The case provides an analytical exercise where students are provided a forecast model of the expected cash flows to the SuDa investment and asked to evaluate whether the investment can meet Shipston's 20% return requirement. In order to evaluate the investment, students must construct equity residual cash flows and estimate the internal rate of return for the investment.
This case has been taught successfully in a second-year MBA elective in private equity and can be used in other courses focusing on valuation. The students should be familiar with basic valuation techniques, including equity residual cash flow analysis. The case can also be used in courses on international finance to discuss the differences in the business environment between the PRC and other developed markets.