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Public Enterprises in a Global Perspective in the Last Decade


  • Stefano CLÒ


  • Matteo FERRARIS


  • Massimo FLORIO



The issue of public enterprises, especially those operating on an international scale, is gaining increasing attention. This paper evaluates the performance of contemporary public enterprises. We first identify public enterprises according the OECD approach, when the control of the public owner is greater than 50% (Christianen 2011, Kowalski et al. 2013), and we analyze about 1,000 listed companies (private and public) extracted from the Forbes Global 2000 - which lists the largest companies in the world - considering some performance indicators (ROS, ROA, ROE); size indicators, and their sector and country of origin. Next, we move to analyze the behavior of public and private enterprises which are active in the market for corporate control (mergers and acquisitions, M&As). In this second step, we adopt a more flexible definition of public enterprise, as we consider to be public every firm where the top shareholder is a public institution. According to Musacchio and Lazzarini (2014), this approach allows to take into account different types of contemporary public enterprises. By combining data and information reported by Orbis and Zephyr (BVD) we select only the M&As for which it is possible to determine the proprietary nature of the acquirer in the year before the deal, and where pre-deal economic data on firm performance are simultaneously available for both the acquirer and the acquired company. Our final sample is composed of 25,322 deals, of which 2,488 are performed by a public acquirer. Both the analysis of the performance of large companies on a global scale, and the analysis of M&A deals, confirm that public enterprises are currently active in the global market arena, and they show a comparable performance with private ones, and even higher in some specific sectors. The concerns about market distortions determined by contemporary public enterprises do not seem to be supported by the empirical evidence.

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  • Stefano CLÒ & Matteo FERRARIS & Massimo FLORIO, 2015. "Public Enterprises in a Global Perspective in the Last Decade," Departmental Working Papers 2015-03, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  • Handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2015-03

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. de Aghion, Beatriz Armendariz, 1999. "Development banking," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 83-100, February.
    2. Hans Christiansen, 2011. "The Size and Composition of the SOE Sector in OECD Countries," OECD Corporate Governance Working Papers 5, OECD Publishing.
    3. Bai, Chong-En & Xu, Lixin Colin, 2005. "Incentives for CEOs with multitasks: Evidence from Chinese state-owned enterprises," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 517-539, September.
    4. Hans Christiansen & Yunhee Kim, 2014. "State-Invested Enterprises in the Global Marketplace: Implications for a Level Playing Field," OECD Corporate Governance Working Papers 14, OECD Publishing.
    5. Matthew Rhodes‐Kropf & David T. Robinson, 2008. "The Market for Mergers and the Boundaries of the Firm," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(3), pages 1169-1211, June.
    6. Stefano CLÒ & Chiara F. DEL BÒ & Matteo FERRARIS & Carlo FIORIO & Massimo FLORIO & Daniela VANDONE, 2014. "Publicization versus Privatization: Recent worldwide evidence," CIRIEC Working Papers 1403, CIRIEC - Université de Liège.
    7. Stefano CLÒ & Chiara F. DEL BO & Matteo FERRARIS & Carlo FIORIO & Massimo FLORIO & Daniela VANDONE, 2014. "Publicization versus Privatization: Recent Worldwide Evidence," Departmental Working Papers 2014-04, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    8. Massimo Florio, 2014. "The return of public enterprise," Working Papers 201401, CSIL Centre for Industrial Studies.
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    More about this item


    Privatizations; nationalizations; public enterprises; M&As;

    JEL classification:

    • L32 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Public Enterprises; Public-Private Enterprises
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out
    • G34 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Mergers; Acquisitions; Restructuring; Corporate Governance


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