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Optimal Privatization Using Qualifying Auctions


  • Boone, Jan
  • Goeree, Jacob K.


This paper explores the use of auctions for privatizing public assets. In our model, a single ‘insider’ bidder (e.g. incumbent management of a government-owned firm) possesses information about the asset’s risky value. In addition, bidders are privately informed about their costs of exploiting the asset. Due to the insider’s presence, uninformed bidders face a strong winner’s curse in standard auctions with devastating consequences for revenues. We show that the optimal mechanism discriminates against the informationally advantaged bidder to ensure truthful information revelation. The optimal mechanism can be implemented via a simple two-stage ‘qualifying auction.’ In the first stage of the qualifying auction, non-binding bids are submitted to determine who enters the second stage, which consists of a standard second-price auction augmented with a reserve price.

Suggested Citation

  • Boone, Jan & Goeree, Jacob K., 2005. "Optimal Privatization Using Qualifying Auctions," CEPR Discussion Papers 5118, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5118

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ye, Lixin, 2007. "Indicative bidding and a theory of two-stage auctions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 181-207, January.
    2. Jeremy Bulow & Ming Huang & Paul Klemperer, 1999. "Toeholds and Takeovers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 427-454, June.
    3. Hernando-Veciana, Angel, 2004. "Successful uninformed bidding," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 29-53, July.
    4. Roger B. Myerson, 1978. "Optimal Auction Design," Discussion Papers 362, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    5. Paul Klemperer, 2002. "What Really Matters in Auction Design," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 169-189, Winter.
    6. Bulow, Jeremy & Roberts, John, 1989. "The Simple Economics of Optimal Auctions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1060-1090, October.
    7. Hernando-Veciana, Ángel & Tröge, Michael, 2011. "The insider's curse," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 339-350, March.
    8. Welch, D. & Fremond, O., 1998. "The Case-by-Case Approach to Privatization. Techniques and Examples," Papers 403, World Bank - Technical Papers.
    9. Kagel, John & Pevnitskaya, Svetlana & Ye, Lixin, 2008. "Indicative bidding: An experimental analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 697-721, March.
    10. Roger B. Myerson, 1981. "Optimal Auction Design," Mathematics of Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 6(1), pages 58-73, February.
    11. Larson, Nathan, 2009. "Private value perturbations and informational advantage in common value auctions," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 430-460, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hernando-Veciana, Ángel, 2009. "Information acquisition in auctions: Sealed bids vs. open bids," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 372-405, March.
    2. Kagel, John & Pevnitskaya, Svetlana & Ye, Lixin, 2008. "Indicative bidding: An experimental analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 697-721, March.
    3. Hai Wang & Weidong Zhang & Jingjing Wang, 2007. "Auctioning the state owned enterprise in China: the trade-off between maximizing revenue and minimizing unemployment," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 40(3), pages 267-280, September.
    4. repec:kap:enreec:v:68:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10640-016-0063-x is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Bergemann, Dirk & Wambach, Achim, 2015. "Sequential information disclosure in auctions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PB), pages 1074-1095.
    6. Jan Boone & Roy Chen & Jacob Goeree & Angelo Polydoro, 2009. "Risky procurement with an insider bidder," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(4), pages 417-436, December.
    7. Hernando-Veciana, Angel & Michelucci, Fabio, 2018. "Inefficient rushes in auctions," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 13(1), January.

    More about this item


    information advantage; privatization; qualifying auction; winner's curse;

    JEL classification:

    • D44 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Auctions
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out

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