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Privatization

The transfer of government-owned or government-run companies to the private sector, usually by selling them.
Copyright © 2012, Campbell R. Harvey. All Rights Reserved.

privatization

The conversion of a public enterprise to a private enterprise. For example, a government-owned railroad or airline may undergo privatization if ownership shares of the enterprise are sold to individual and institutional investors.
Wall Street Words: An A to Z Guide to Investment Terms for Today's Investor by David L. Scott. Copyright © 2003 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. All rights reserved.

Privatization.

Privatization is the conversion of a government-run enterprise to one that is privately owned and operated. The conversion is made by selling shares to individual or institutional investors.

The theory behind privatization is that privately run enterprises, such as utility companies, airlines, and telecommunications systems, are more efficient and provide better service than government-run companies.

But in many cases, privatization is a way for the government to raise cash and to reduce its role as service provider.

Dictionary of Financial Terms. Copyright © 2008 Lightbulb Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

privatization

see NATIONALIZATION VERSUS PRIVATIZATION.
Collins Dictionary of Business, 3rd ed. © 2002, 2005 C Pass, B Lowes, A Pendleton, L Chadwick, D O’Reilly and M Afferson

privatization

the denationalization of an industry, transferring it from public to private ownership. The extent of state ownership of industry depends very much on political ideology, with CENTRALLY PLANNED ECONOMY proponents seeking more NATIONALIZATION, and PRIVATE-ENTERPRISE ECONOMY advocates favouring little or no nationalization. Thus, in the UK, the wide-ranging programme of privatization embarked upon by the Conservative government in the 1980s can be interpreted partly as a political preference for the private-enterprise system.

Advocates of privatization, however, also espouse the economic virtues of free enterprise over state control. Specifically they argue that firms that are left to fend for themselves in a competitive market environment are likely to allocate resources more efficiently and to meet changing consumers’ demands more effectively than a bureaucratic state monopolist (see PRICE SYSTEM).

In this regard, it is pertinent to distinguish between industries that can be considered NATURAL MONOPOLIES and those where, in theory, a more fragmented industrial structure could be recreated. In the former category come those industries, such as gas and electricity distribution, railway and telephone services, where ECONOMIES OF SCALE are so great that only a monopoly supplier is in a position to fully maximize supply efficiency. There could be a serious loss of efficiency through unnecessary duplication of resources if these activities were to be fragmented. The alternative of a private-enterprise MONOPOLY is not appealing either, critics argue, because of the dangers of monopolistic abuse.

In the latter category come industries, such as iron and steel, gas and electricity generation, shipbuilding and car manufacture, where, because production usually takes place on a multiplant basis, the scope exists for placing each plant under a different ownership interest, thereby creating a more competitive supply situation. However, because these activities are capital-intensive and, like natural monopolies, are characterized by significant economies of scale, the most that can be hoped for is the creation of a high seller concentration OLIGOPOLY. By contrast, the removal from the public sector of those individual firms (as distinct from whole industries) that were nationalized because they were making losses and needing reorganizing (for example, Ferranti, Inter nation-al Computers, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, British Leyland, British Shipbuilders) can be more easily justified.

The main problem with privatization is the extent to which competition can in fact be introduced into sectors hitherto confined to state monopolies, either by breaking up an existing state corporation into a number of separate private companies (as for electricity) or by encouraging new entry (as in gas and telecommunications). Because of this, it has been necessary in most cases to establish a regulatory authority (Ofgas and Oftel respectively for gas and telecommunications), backed up by the possibility of a reference to the COMPETITION COMMISSION, to control the industry. See DEREGULATION, INDUSTRIAL POLICY.

Collins Dictionary of Economics, 4th ed. © C. Pass, B. Lowes, L. Davies 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The important thing is you are able to privatize (some)," Tugade said.
In the second phase, the government would privatize 41 PSEs including PIA and PSM that would take three to five years.
The government wants RTP to reduce its budget by $70 million and, in order to achieve the cuts, privatize RTP-2.
"The intention is to privatize but if you're going to privatize something, people want something that doesn't have a hundred-ton anchor weighing it down," Sheikh Mohammad bin Essa al-Khalifa, head of the Economic Development Board, told Reuters.
The government has ''yet to clearly say why it will privatize'' postal services, Noda said.
The Japanese government is outlining a multiyear plan to privatize Japan Post.
In this context, critics of proposals to privatize Social Security argue that the more privileged members of society have an obligation to protect low-wage and vulnerable workers in retirement (Baker, 1997).
Every year, government agencies survey functions they could privatize. Last year, some of the nearly 600 job functions the EPA listed as "commercial" appeared to denote research, monitoring, and enforcement positions: "Risk Analysis" for the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and the Food Safety Advisory Committee; "Data Collection/Analysis" for solid waste, air pollution, and water pollution; "Environmental Restoration Analysis"; and "Multimedia Compliance and Pollution Prevention."
The only group that appears alarmed so far is his fellow pols and bureaucrats, who are stunned by proposals to trim pork-barrel spending, streamline services, and privatize the country's wildly inefficient public corporations, the government-supported companies that handle the business generated by public policy--building bridges, digging for oil, and so forth.
A historical geographer, she has previously written seminal essays on aspects of the Imperial Russian government's attempts to destroy the peasant commune, consolidate and privatize agricultural lands, and create independent and civic-minded farmers.