One-third of mainland companies plan to grow through mergers and acquisitions in the next three years, but a considerable number don't know how to fund their ambition, a survey by Grant Thornton International indicates. The business advisory firm surveyed 400 mainland companies and found that 133 had mergers and acquisitions plans. Most said they aimed to build scale, gain access to new geographic markets, or acquire new technology or established brands in the coming years through mergers or acquisitions. However, four out of ten with such plans said they did not know how they would finance the expansion. 'It is alarming to see a significant ratio of mainland companies indicating a lower degree of direction and preparation for the future,' said Eugene Ha, an advisory partner at Grant Thornton Jingdu Tianhua, a Beijing-based member of the firm. Businesses looking to 'grasp market opportunities in China and around the world should not overlook the importance of developing concrete financial business plans for long term success,' he added. By contrast, in Hong Kong, where 26 per cent of 200 respondent companies planned mergers and acquisitions in the next three years, only 4 per cent lacked clear funding schemes, the survey found. Retained earnings and bank finance were the most preferred financing options for the Hong Kong and mainland companies. The survey also found that the proportion of mainland businesses planning to go public decreased from 24 per cent of all companies last year to 18 per cent this year. In Hong Kong the percentage of businesses planning to raise funds through listing increased slightly from 7 per cent in 2011 to 9 per cent, but remained far below the figures of 22 per cent in 2008, before the global financial crisis. Among the 12,000 businesses in 40 economies surveyed by the firm, 34 per cent said they would seek merger and acquisition opportunities over the next three years, be it overseas or in their own market, a figure that remains unchanged since last year.