In recent years, with the continuous growth of the global ESG investment scale, ESG strategy has become the mainstream trend of enterprise operation, promoting industrial transformation and upgrading and sustainable economic development. As an alternative financing channel for corporate bank credit, commercial credit effectively alleviates the problem of insufficient investment caused by financing constraints and plays an important role in the production and operation of enterprises. So, can good ESG performance promote enterprises to obtain more commercial credit financing? Examining the impact of ESG performance on commercial credit financing is of great practical significance for boosting the real economy and promoting the high-quality development of China’s economy. At present, few studies focus on the relationship between the two, lacking reliable empirical conclusions.
This paper attempts to explain the above question. The study finds that ESG performance promotes enterprises to obtain more commercial credit financing. The mechanism test shows that ESG performance can facilitate the acquisition of commercial credit by strengthening competitive advantages in product markets, enhancing external supervision, and improving corporate reputation and risk resistance. From the perspective of time, the promotion effect of ESG performance on commercial credit financing is stronger after the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee, which is related to the implementation of the concept of green development in the whole society. Heterogeneity analysis shows that the promotion effect of ESG performance on commercial credit financing is more significant among enterprises with high supplier concentration and small credit size, showing a certain differentiation effect. In addition, this paper also finds that the effect of commercial credit financing brought by ESG performance improves the real economic investment of enterprises, with a significant increase in innovation investment on the one hand and fixed asset investment on the other. It can be predicted that there is a positive correlation between ESG performance and commercial credit financing, and a “debt-contingent governance effect” between the two, which effectively promotes the high-quality development of the real economy.
The marginal contribution of this paper lies in that: First, it analyzes the effect of ESG performance based on the current growing scale of investment in ESG assets in practical circles and the response to the extensive research on ESG in international academia, which is an important supplement to the ESG literature. Second, it not only provides an important literature supplement to the existing factors affecting commercial credit financing, but also provides empirical evidence from China for understanding the relationship between ESG performance and commercial credit financing. Third, it provides useful policy inspiration for China to continue to promote the construction of ESG and help the high-quality development of the real economy.