Austria has two major wholly state-owned enterprises (SOEs): The OeBB (Austrian Federal Railways) and Asfinag (highway financing, building, maintenance, and administration). Other government industry holding companies are bundled in the government holding company OeBAG (http://www.oebag.gv.at)
The government has direct representation in the supervisory boards of its companies (commensurate with its ownership stake), and OeBAG has the authority to buy and sell company shares, as well as purchase minority stakes in strategically relevant companies. Such purchases are subject to approval from an audit committee consisting of government-nominated independent economic experts.
OeBAG holds a 53 percent stake in the Post Office, 51 percent in energy company Verbund, 33 percent in the gambling group Casinos Austria, 31.5 percent in the energy company OMV, 28 percent in the Telekom Austria Group, and a few other minor ventures. Local governments own the majority of utilities, Vienna International Airport, and more than half of Austria’s 264 hospitals and clinics.
Private enterprises in Austria can generally compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions with respect to market access, credit, and other such business operations as licenses and supplies. While most SOEs must finance themselves under terms similar to private enterprises, some large SOEs (such as OeBB) benefit from state-subsidized pension systems. As a member of the EU, Austria is also a party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) of the WTO, which indirectly also covers the SOEs (since they are entities monitored by the Austrian Court of Auditors).
The five major OeBAG-controlled companies (Postal Service, Verbund AG, Casinos Austria, OMV, Telekom Austria), are listed on the Vienna stock exchange. Senior managers in these companies do not directly report to a minister, but to an oversight board. That being said, the government often appoints management and board members who have strong political affiliations.
The government has not privatized any public enterprises since 2007. Austrian public opinion is skeptical regarding further privatization and there are no indications of any government privatizations on the horizon. In prior privatizations, foreign and domestic investors received equal treatment. Despite a historical government preference for maintaining blocking minority rights for domestic shareholders, foreign investors have successfully gained full control of enterprises in several strategic sectors of the Austrian economy, including in telecommunications, banking, steel, and infrastructure. In March 2020, the government chose not to intervene when the Czech Sazka group increased its stake in the partially state-owned gambling group Casinos Austria to a majority share.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Barbados work in partnership with ministries, or under their remit, and carry out certain ministerial responsibilities. There are 33 SOEs in Barbados operating in areas such as travel and tourism, investment services, broadcasting and media, sanitation services, sports, and culture. Pre-pandemic total net income was estimated at 60 million USD (120 million Barbados dollars).
SOEs in Barbados are not found in the key areas earmarked for investment. They are all wholly owned government entities. They are headed by boards of directors to which their senior management reports.
As part of the ongoing BERT program, the government of Barbados is addressing the expenditure position of the SOEs by defining clear objectives for SOE reforms, reducing the wage bill of these entities, and implementing other necessary reform measures.
Barbados does not currently have a targeted privatization program. The government has announced plans for public-private partnerships in airport management and broadcasting services, which will still see the government retaining ownership of these entities. The process remains open to foreign investors and is transparent. More information can be obtained at http://www.gisbarbados.gov.bb.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Belgium has approximately 80,000 employees working in SOEs, mainly in the railways, telecoms and general utility sectors. There are also several region-owned enterprises where the regions often have a controlling majority. Private enterprises are allowed to compete with SOEs under the same terms and conditions, but since the EU started to liberalize network industries such as electricity, gas, water, telecoms and railways, there have been regular complaints in Belgium about unfair competition from the former state monopolists. Complaints have ranged from lower salaries (railways) to lower VAT rates (gas and electricity) to regulators with a conflict of interest (telecom). Although these complaints have now largely subsided, many of these former monopolies are now market leaders in their sector, due mainly to their ability to charge high access costs to legacy networks that were fully amortized years ago.
Belgium currently has no scheduled privatizations. There are ongoing discussions about the relative merits of a possible privatization of the state-owned bank Belfius and the government share in telecom operator Proximus. There are no indications that foreign investors would be excluded from these eventual privatizations.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Chile had 29 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in operation as of 2019. Twenty-eight SOEs are commercial companies and the newest one (FOINSA) is an infrastructure fund that was created to facilitate public-private partnership projects. 26 SOEs are not listed and are fully owned by the government, while the remaining three are majority government owned. Ten Chilean SOEs operate in the port management sector, seven in the services sector, three in the defense sector, three in the mining sector (including CODELCO, the world’s largest copper producer, and ENAP, an oil and gas company), two in transportation, one in the water sector, one is a TV station, and one is a state-owned bank (Banco Estado). The state holds a minority stake in four water companies as a result of a privatization process. In 2019, total assets of Chilean SOEs amounted to USD 74.2 billion, while their total net income was USD 556.7 million. SOEs employed 50,208 people in 2019.
Twenty SOEs in Chile fall under the supervision of the Public Enterprises System (SEP), a state holding in charge of overseeing SOE governance. The rest – including the largest SOEs such as CODELCO, ENAP and Banco Estado – have their own governance and report to government ministries. Allocation of seats on the boards of Chilean SOEs is determined by the SEP, as described above, or outlined by the laws that regulate them. In CODELCO’s corporate governance, there is a mix between seats appointed by recommendation from an independent high-level civil service committee, and seats allocated by political authorities in the government.
In general, Chilean SOEs work under hard budget constraints and compete under the same regulatory and tax frameworks as private firms. The exception is ENAP, which is the only company allowed to refine oil in Chile. As an OECD member, Chile adheres to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs.
Chile does not have a privatization program.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
China has approximately 150,000 wholly-owned SOEs, of which 50,000 are owned by the central government, and the remainder by local or provincial governments. SOEs, both central and local, account for 30 to 40 percent of total gross domestic product (GDP) and about 20 percent of China’s total employment. Non-financial SOE assets totaled roughly USD30 trillion. SOEs can be found in all sectors of the economy, from tourism to heavy industries. State funds are spread throughout the economy and the state may also be the majority or controlling shareholder in an ostensibly private enterprise. China’s leading SOEs benefit from preferential government policies aimed at developing bigger and stronger “national champions.” SOEs enjoy favored access to essential economic inputs (land, hydrocarbons, finance, telecoms, and electricity) and exercise considerable power in markets like steel and minerals. SOEs have long enjoyed preferential access to credit and the ability to issue publicly traded equity and debt. A comprehensive, published list of all Chinese SOEs does not exist.
PRC officials have indicated China intends to utilize OECD guidelines to improve the SOEs independence and professionalism, including relying on Boards of Directors that are free from political influence. Other recent reforms have included salary caps, limits on employee benefits, and attempts to create stock incentive programs for managers who have produced mixed results. However, analysts believe minor reforms will be ineffective if SOE administration and government policy remain intertwined, and Chinese officials make minimal progress in primarily changing the regulation and business conduct of SOEs. SOEs continue to hold dominant shares in their respective industries, regardless of whether they are strategic, which may further restrain private investment in the economy. Among central SOEs managed by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), senior management positions are mainly filled by senior party members who report directly to the CCP, and double as the company’s party secretary. SOE executives often outrank regulators in the CCP rank structure, which minimizes the effectiveness of regulators in implementing reforms. The lack of management independence and the controlling ownership interest of the state make SOEs de facto arms of the government, subject to government direction and interference. SOEs are rarely the defendant in legal disputes, and when they are, they almost always prevail. U.S. companies often complain about the lack of transparency and objectivity in commercial disputes with SOEs.
Since 2013, the PRC government has periodically announced reforms to SOEs that included selling SOE shares to outside investors or a mixed ownership model, in which private companies invest in SOEs and outside managers are hired. The government has tried these approaches to improve SOE management structures, emphasize the use of financial benchmarks, and gradually infuse private capital into some sectors traditionally monopolized by SOEs like energy, finance, and telecommunications. In practice, however, reforms have been gradual, as the PRC government has struggled to implement its SOE reform vision and often preferred to utilize a SOE consolidation approach. Recently, Xi and other senior leaders have increasingly focused reform efforts on strengthening the role of the state as an investor or owner of capital, instead of the old SOE model in which the state was more directly involved in managing operations.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Since 2015, the Government of Colombia has concentrated its industrial and commercial enterprises under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance. According to Ministry’s 2019 annual report, the number of state-owned companies is 105, with a combined value of USD 20 billion. The government is the majority shareholder of 39 companies and a minority shareholder in the remaining 66. Among the most notable companies with a government stake are Ecopetrol (Colombia’s majority state-owned and privately-run oil company), ISA (electricity distribution), Banco Agrario de Colombia, Bancoldex, and Satena (regional airline). SOEs competing in the Colombian market do not receive non-market-based advantages from the government. The Ministry of Finance normally updates their annual report on SOEs every June.
Colombia has privatized state-owned enterprises under article 60 of the Constitution and Law Number 226 of 1995. This law stipulates that the sale of government holdings in an enterprise should be offered to two groups: first to cooperatives and workers’ associations of the enterprise, then to the general public. During the first phase, special terms and credits have to be granted, and in the second phase, foreign investors may participate along with the general public. A series of privatizations planned for 2020 were postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic. The government views stimulating private-sector investment in roads, ports, electricity, and gas infrastructure as a high priority. The government is increasingly turning to concessions and using public-private partnerships (PPPs) to secure and incentivize infrastructure development.
In order to attract investment and promote PPPs, Colombian modified infrastructure regulations to clarify provisions for frequently-cited obstacles to participate in PPPs, including environmental licensing, land acquisition, and the displacement of public utilities. The law puts in place a civil procedure that facilitates land expropriation during court cases, allows for expedited environmental licensing, and clarifies that the cost to move or replace public utilities affected by infrastructure projects falls to private companies. However, infrastructure development companies considering bidding on tenders have raised concerns about unacceptable levels of risk that result from a law (Ley 80) establishing a framework for public works projects. Interpretations of Ley 80 do not establish a liability cap on potential judgments and view company officials equal to those with fiscal oversight authority when it comes to criminal liability for misfeasance.
Municipal enterprises operate many public utilities and infrastructure services. These municipal enterprises have engaged private sector investment through concessions. There are several successful concessions involving roads. These kinds of partnerships have helped promote reforms and create a more attractive environment for private, national, and foreign investment.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Costa Rica’s total of 28 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are commonly known by their abbreviated names. They include monopolies in petroleum-derived fuels (RECOPE), lottery (JPS), railroads (INCOFER), local production of ethanol (CNP/FANAL), water distribution (AyA), and electrical distribution (ICE, CNFL, JASEC, ESPH). SOEs have market dominance in insurance (INS), telecommunications (ICE, RACSA, JASEC, ESPH) and finance (BNCR, BCR, Banco Popular, BANHVI, INVU, INFOCOOP). They have significant market participation in parcel and mail delivery (Correos) and ports operation (INCOP and JAPDEVA). Six of those SOEs hold significant economic power with revenues exceeding 1 percent of GDP: ICE, RECOPE, INS, BNCR, BCR and Banco Popular. The 2020 OECD report “Corporate Governance in Costa Rica” reports that Costa Rican SOE employment is 1.9% of total employment, somewhat below the OECD average of 2.5%. Audited returns for each SOE may be found on each company’s website, while basic revenue and costs for each SOE are available on the General Controller’s Office (CGR) “Sistema de Planes y Presupuestos” https://www.cgr.go.cr/02-consultas/consulta-pp.html. The Costa Rican government does not currently hold minority stakes in commercial enterprises.
No Costa Rican state-owned enterprise currently requires continuous and substantial state subsidy to survive. Many SOEs turn a profit, which is allocated as dictated by law and boards of directors. Financial allocations to and earnings from SOEs may be found in the CGR “Sistema de Informacion de Planes y Presupuestos (SIPP)”.
U.S. investors and their advocates cite some of the following ways in which Costa Rican SOEs competing in the domestic market receive non-market-based advantages because of their status as state-owned entities.
According to Law 7200, electricity generated privately must be purchased by public entities and the installed capacity of the private sector is limited to 30 percent of total electrical installed capacity in the country: 15 percent to small privatelyowned renewable energy plants and 15 percent to larger “buildoperatetransfer” (BOT) operations.
Telecoms and technology sector companies have called attention to the fact that government agencies often choose SOEs as their telecom services providers despite a full assortment of privatesector telecom companies. The Information and Telecommunications Business Chamber (CAMTIC) has been advocating for years against what its members feel to be unfair use by government entities of a provision (Article 2) in the public contracting law that allows noncompetitive award of contracts to public entities (also termed “direct purchase”) when functionaries of the awarding entity certify the award to be an efficient use of public funds. CAMTIC has compiled detailed statistics showing that while the yearly total dollar value of Costa Rican government direct purchases in the IT sector under Article 2 has dropped considerably from USD 226 million in 2017, to $72.5 million in 2018, USD 27.5 million in 2019, and USD 7.1 million in 2020, the number of purchases has actually increased from 56 purchases in both 2017 and 2018 to 86 in 2019 and 83 in 2020.
The stateowned insurance provider National Insurance Institute (INS) has been adjusting to private sector competition since 2009 but in 2020 still registered 70 percent of total insurance premiums paid; 13 insurers are now registered with insurance regulator SUGESE: (https://www.sugese.fi.cr/SitePages/index.aspx). Competitors point to unfair advantages enjoyed by the stateowned insurer INS, including a strong tendency among SOE’s to contract their insurance with INS.
Costa Rica does not have a privatization program and the markets that have been opened to competition in recent decades – banking, telecommunications, insurance and Atlantic Coast container port operations – were opened without privatizing the corresponding state-owned enterprise(s). However, in response to the growing fiscal deficit, the current administration has signaled willingness to privatize two relatively minor state owned enterprises: the state liquor company (Fanal), and the International Bank of Costa Rica (Bicsa).
Democratic Republic of the Congo
7. State-Owned Enterprises
There are 20 DRC state-owned enterprises (SOEs) operating in the mining, transportation, energy, telecommunications, finance, and hospitality sectors. In the past, Congolese SOEs have stifled competition and have been unable to provide reliable electricity, transportation, and other important services over which they have monopolies. Some SOEs and other Congolese parastatal organizations are in poor financial and operational state due to indebtedness and the mismanagement of resources and employees. The list of SOEs can be found at: http://www.leganet.cd/Legislation/Droit%20Public/EPub/d.09.12.24.04.09.htm
There is limited reporting on the assets of SOEs and other parastatal enterprises, making valuation difficult. DRC law does not grant SOEs an advantage over private companies in bidding for government contracts or obtaining preferential access to land and raw materials. The government is often accused of favoring SOEs over private companies in contracting and bidding.
The DRC is not a party to the WTO’s procurement agreement (GPA), but nominally adheres to the OECD guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs. The DRC is a Participating Country in the Southern Africa SOE network, with the Ministry of Portfolio and the Steering Committee for SOE reforms designated as Regularly Participating Institutions.
The DRC has no official privatization program.
France and Monaco
7. State-Owned Enterprises
The 11 listed entities in which the French State maintains stakes at the federal level are Aeroports de Paris (50.63 percent); Airbus Group (10.95 percent); Air France-KLM (14.29 percent, although expected to increase temporarily to nearly 30 percent as part of a March 2021 bailout package); EDF (83.58 percent), ENGIE (23.64 percent), Eramet (25.57 percent), La Française des Jeux (FDJ) (21.91 percent), Orange (a direct 13.39 percent stake and a 9.60 percent stake through Bpifrance), Renault (15.01 percent), Safran (11.23 percent), and Thales 25.68 percent). Unlisted companies owned by the State include SNCF (rail), RATP (public transport), CDC (Caisse des depots et consignations) and La Banque Postale (bank). In all, the government has majority and minority stakes in 88 firms, in a variety of sectors.
Private enterprises have the same access to financing as SOEs, including from state-owned banks or other state-owned investment vehicles. SOEs are subject to the same tax burden and tax rebate policies as their private sector competitors. Conversely, SOEs may get subsidies and other financial resources from the government, just as private competitors.
France, as a member of the European Union, is party to the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) within the framework of the World Trade Organization. Companies owned or controlled by the state behave largely like other companies in France and are subject to the same laws and tax code. The Boards of SOEs operate according to accepted French corporate governance principles as set out in the (private sector) AFEP-MEDEF Code of Corporate Governance. SOEs are required by law to publish an annual report, and the French Court of Audit conducts financial audits on all entities in which the state holds a majority interest. The French government appoints representatives to the Boards of Directors of all companies in which it holds significant numbers of shares, and manages its portfolio through a special unit attached to the Ministry for the Economy and Finance Ministry, the shareholding agency APE (Agence de Participations de l’Etat). The State as a shareholder must set an example in terms of upholding high standards with respect for the environment, gender equality and social responsibility. The report also highlighted that the State must protect its strategic assets and remain a shareholder in areas where the general interest is at stake.
The government will temporarily increase its stake in Air France-KLM, which was severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Although terms are still being negotiated as of March 2021, it is likely France’s stake in the entity will increase from 14.3 percent to nearly 30 percent.
The government was due to privatize many large companies in 2019, including ADP and ENGIE in order to create a €10 billion ($11.8 billion) fund for innovation and research. However, the program was delayed because of political opposition to the privatization of airport manager ADP, regarded as a strategic asset to be protected from foreign shareholders. The government succeeded in selling in November 2019 a 52 percent stake in gambling firm FDJ. The government continues to maintain a strong presence in some sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defense industries.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
The formal term for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Germany translates as “public funds, institutions, or companies,” and refers to entities whose budget and administration are separate from those of the government, but in which the government has more than 50 percent of the capital shares or voting rights. Appropriations for SOEs are included in public budgets, and SOEs can take two forms, either public or private law entities. Public law entities are recognized as legal personalities whose goal, tasks, and organization are established and defined via specific acts of legislation, with the best-known example being the publicly-owned promotional bank KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau). KfW’s mandate is to promote global development. The government can also resort to ownership or participation in an entity governed by private law if the following conditions are met: doing so fulfills an important state interest, there is no better or more economical alternative, the financial responsibility of the federal government is limited, the government has appropriate supervisory influence, and yearly reports are published.
Government oversight of SOEs is decentralized and handled by the ministry with the appropriate technical area of expertise. The primary goal of such involvement is promoting public interests rather than generating profits. The government is required to close its ownership stake in a private entity if tasks change or technological progress provides more effective alternatives, though certain areas, particularly science and culture, remain permanent core government obligations. German SOEs are subject to the same taxes and the same value added tax rebate policies as their private sector competitors. There are no laws or rules that seek to ensure a primary or leading role for SOEs in certain sectors or industries. However, a white paper drafted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy in November 2019 outlines elements of a national industrial strategy, which includes the option of a temporary state participation in key technology companies as “last resort”. Private enterprises have the same access to financing as SOEs, including access to state-owned banks such as KfW.
The Federal Statistics Office maintains a database of SOEs from all three levels of government (federal, state, and municipal) listing a total of 18,566 entities for 2018, or 0.5 percent of the total 3.5 million companies in Germany. SOEs in 2018 had €609 billion in revenue and €583 billion in expenditures. 41 percent of SOEs’ revenue was generated by water and energy suppliers, 12 percent by health and social services, and 11 percent by transportation-related entities. Measured by number of companies rather than size, 88 percent of SOEs are owned by municipalities, 10 percent are owned by Germany’s 16 states, and 2 percent are owned by the federal government.
The Federal Finance Ministry is required to publish a detailed annual report on public funds, institutions, and companies in which the federal government has direct participation (including a minority share) or an indirect participation greater than 25 percent and with a nominal capital share worth more than €50,000. The federal government held a direct participation in 104 companies and an indirect participation in 433 companies at the end of 2018, most prominently Deutsche Bahn (100 percent share), Deutsche Telekom (32 percent share), and Deutsche Post (21 percent share). Federal government ownership is concentrated in the areas of infrastructure, economic development, science, administration/increasing efficiency, defense, development policy, culture. As the result of federal financial assistance packages from the federally-controlled Financial Market Stability Fund during the global financial crisis of 2008/9, the federal government still has a partial stake in several commercial banks, including a 15.6 percent share in Commerzbank, Germany’s second largest commercial bank. In 2020, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the German government acquired shares of several large German companies, including CureVac, TUI and Lufthansa, in an attempt to prevent companies from filing for insolvency or, in the case of CureVac, support vaccine research in Germany.
The 2019 annual report (with 2018 data) can be found here: https://www.bundesfinanzministerium.de/Content/DE/Downloads/Broschueren_Bestellservice/2020-05-14-beteiligungsbericht-des-bundes-2019.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=28
Publicly-owned banks constitute one of the three pillars of Germany’s banking system (cooperative and commercial banks are the other two). Germany’s savings banks are mainly owned by the municipalities, while the so-called Landesbanken are typically owned by regional savings bank associations and the state governments. Given their joint market share, about 40 percent of the German banking sector is publicly owned. There are also many state-owned promotional/development banks which have taken on larger governmental roles in financing infrastructure. This increased role removes expenditures from public budgets, particularly helpful in light of Germany’s balanced budget rules, which took effect for the states in 2020.
A longstanding, prominent case of a partially state-owned enterprise is automotive manufacturer Volkswagen, in which the state of Lower Saxony owns the third-largest share in the company of around 12 percent but controls 20 percent of the voting rights. The so-called Volkswagen Law, passed in 1960, limited individual shareholder’s voting rights in Volkswagen to a maximum of 20 percent regardless of the actual number of shares owned, so that Lower Saxony could veto any takeover attempts. In 2005, the European Commission successfully sued Germany at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), claiming the law impeded the free flow of capital. The law was subsequently amended to remove the cap on voting rights, but Lower Saxony’s 20 percent share of voting rights was maintained, preserving its ability to block hostile takeovers.
Germany does not have any privatization programs at this time. German authorities treat foreigners equally in privatizations of state-owned enterprises.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Grenadian state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are legislatively established by acts of Parliament. These enterprises all have boards of directors appointed by the government and answerable to the relevant ministries. Twenty-five of the 28 authorized SOEs are operational. They secure credit on commercial terms from commercial banks. SOEs submit annual reports to the Government Audit Department and are subject to audits shared with their parent ministries. SOEs manage transportation infrastructure (ports and airports), housing, education, hospitals, cement production, investment promotion, and small business development, among other functions. Generally, where they compete with the private sector, they do so on an equal basis.
Grenada, like its neighbors, acknowledges the OECD guidelines. Corporate governance of SOEs is established and regulated by founding statutes. Local courts show no favoritism toward SOEs in the adjudication of investment disputes.
Guatemala has three state owned enterprises: National Electricity Institute (INDE) and two state-owned ports, Santo Tomas on the Caribbean coast, and Port Quetzal on the Pacific coast. INDE is a state-owned electricity company responsible for expanding the provision of electricity to rural communities. INDE owns approximately 14 percent of the country’s installed effective generation capacity, and it participates in the wholesale market under the same rules as its competitors. It also provides a subsidy to consumers of up to 88 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month. Its board of directors comprises representatives from the government, municipalities, business associations, and labor unions. The board of directors appoints the general manager. The President appoints the Ports’ boards of directors, and each board of Directors hires the respective general managers.
The Guatemalan government currently owns 16 percent of the shares of the Rural Development Bank (Banrural), the second largest bank in Guatemala, and holds 3 out of 10 seats on its board of directors. Banrural is a mixed capital company and operates under the same laws and regulations as other commercial banks. The Guatemalan government also appoints the manager of GUATEL, the former state-owned telephone company dedicated to providing rural and government services that split off from the fixed-line telephone company during its privatization in 1998. GUATEL’s operations are small and it continuously fails to generate sufficient revenue to cover expenses. The GUATEL director reports to the Guatemalan president and to the board of directors.
The Guatemalan government privatized a number of state-owned assets in industries and utilities in the late 1990s, including power distribution, telephone services, and grain storage. Guatemala does not currently have a privatization program.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Hong Kong has several major HKG-owned enterprises classified as “statutory bodies.” Hong Kong is party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) within the framework of WTO. Annex 3 of the GPA lists as statutory bodies the Housing Authority, the Hospital Authority, the Airport Authority, the Mass Transit Railway Corporation Limited, and the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, which procure in accordance with the agreement.
The HKG provides more than half the population with subsidized housing, along with most hospital and education services from childhood through the university level. The government also owns major business enterprises, including the stock exchange, railway, and airport.
Conflicts occasionally arise between the government’s roles as owner and policymaker. Industry observers have recommended that the government establish a separate entity to coordinate its ownership of government-held enterprises and initiate a transparent process of nomination to the boards of government-affiliated entities. Other recommendations from the private sector include establishing a clear separation between industrial policy and the government’s ownership function and minimizing exemptions of government-affiliated enterprises from general laws.
The Competition Law exempts all but six of the statutory bodies from the law’s purview. While the government’s private sector ownership interests do not materially impede competition in Hong Kong’s most important economic sectors, industry representatives have encouraged the government to adhere more closely to the Guidelines on Corporate Governance of State-owned Enterprises of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
All major utilities in Hong Kong, except water, are owned and operated by private enterprises, usually under an agreement framework by which the HKG regulates each utility’s management.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
There are a number of SOEs in Ireland operating in the energy, broadcasting, and transportation sectors.
Eirgrid is the SOE with responsibility of managing and operating the electricity grid on the island of Ireland. (Eirgrid has a sister company SONI in Northern Ireland). There are two energy SOEs – Electric Ireland (for electricity) and Ervia, formerly Bord Gáis Eireann, (for natural gas). Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTE) operates the national broadcasting (radio and television) service while Córas Iompair Éireann (CIE) provides bus and train transportation throughout the country.
The government privatized both Eircom (the national telecommunication service) and Aer Lingus (the national airline). CIE remains wholly owned by the government. Irish Water (which operates as a subsidiary of Ervia) began operations in 2013 to serve as the state-owned entity delivering water services (previously delivered by local authorities) to homes and businesses. New residential water charges (previously funded from general government revenue) were introduced by Irish Water in 2015 and subsequently suspended in 2016. Irish Water continues to deliver water services with the cost of domestic water supplies paid by the government.
All of Ireland’s SOEs are open to competition for market share and can, as in the case of Electric Ireland and Ervia, compete with one another. The SOEs do not discriminate against, or place unfair burdens on, foreign investors or foreign-owned investments. There has been a statutory transfer of responsibility for the regulatory functions for the energy sector from the government to the Commission for Regulation of Utilities. This statutory body is required to not discriminate unfairly between participants in the sector, while protecting the end-user.
SOEs generally pay their own way, finance their operations and fund further expansion through profits generated from their own operations. Some SOEs pay an annual dividend to the government. A board of directors usually governs a SOE with some of these directors appointed by the government.
Ireland does not have a formal privatization program but the government agreed in 2010, as part of the Troika program, to privatize some of its state-owned and semi-state owned enterprises. The government nominated but has not yet sold some non-strategic elements of Ervia (formerly Bord Gais Eireann, the gas supply company). The government indicated that it may sell the electricity generating arm of Electric Ireland, an electricity supply company, but has not yet done so.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
The Italian government formerly owned and operated several monopoly or dominant companies in certain strategic sectors. However, beginning in the 1990s and through the early 2000s, the government began to privatize most of these state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Notwithstanding this privatization effort, the GOI retains 100 percent ownership of the national railroad company (Ferrovie dello Stato) and road network company (ANAS), which merged in January 2018. The GOI holds a 99.56 percent share of RAI, the national radio and television broadcasting network; and retains a controlling interest, either directly or through CDP in companies such as, but not limited to, shipbuilder Fincantieri (71.6 percent), postal and financial services provider Poste Italiane (65 percent), electricity provider ENEL (23.6 percent), oil and gas major Eni (30 percent), defense conglomerate Leonardo-Finmeccanica (30.2 percent), natural gas transmission company Snam (30.1 percent), as well as electricity transmission provider Terna (29.85 percent). The role and influence of CDP in the economy is increasing steadily with the number of deals it completed in 2020.
The COVID crisis has stimulated greater GOI intervention in the economy with the GOI shoring up companies such as airline Alitalia. The GOI also has taken a shareholding position in AMInvestco, an Italian subsidiary of Luxembourg-based steel producer Arcelor Mittal, which is operating a steel plant in Taranto in southern Italy. Despite the Italian government’s shareholding position, most of these companies are operating in a competitive environment (domestically and internationally) and are increasingly responsive to market-driven decision-making rather than GOI demands. In addition, many of the state-controlled entities are publicly traded, which provides additional transparency and corporate governance obligations, including equitable treatment for non-governmental minority shareholders. SOEs are subject to the same tax treatment and budget constraints as fully private firms. Additionally, industries with SOEs remain open to private competition.
As an EU member, Italy is covered by EU government procurement rules. As an OECD member, Italy adheres to the Guidelines on Corporate Governance of State-owned Enterprises.
The COVID-19 triggered economic crisis caused the GOI to halt and reverse its privatization program. Notably, it embarked on rescuing troubled institutions like Alitalia, Autostrade, and the Arcelor Mittal steel plant in Taranto (formerly known as ILVA). Through its national development bank, CDP, the previous Italian government (led by Giuseppe Conte) also took large stakes in Italian companies it considered essential for economic security and prosperity. CDP took investment positions in Borsa Italiana, NexiSPA, and WeBuild, and likely will invest in other COVID-hit companies. On March 11, the new government of Mario Draghi published regulations for a fund to assist certain pandemic-affected companies to strengthen their balance sheets. The so-called “Patrimonio Destinato,” worth up to €40 billion, will be financed by specially issued sovereign bonds and managed by CDP. CDP will then use the sovereign bonds as collateral to raise liquidity on the market. Taking advantage of the EU’s more flexible approach to state aid, the fund will invest – via capital injections, convertible bonds, or subordinated debt – in non-financial Italian companies with revenues above €50 million with the aim of helping “strategic” companies weather severe financial difficulty because of the current economic crisis. CDP may also use the fund to support healthier companies on ordinary market terms and buy stakes in listed companies deemed of strategic importance, but only on the condition that CDP partners with market investors. The government approved the “Patrimonio Destinato” fund in the May 2020 Relaunch Degree. The 170-year-old CDP, of which the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) now owns 83%, has played an active role in ensuring strategic assets remain in national hands and in mitigating the economic damage caused by the pandemic.
The MEF owns 64% of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) after a 2017 bailout that cost taxpayers €5.4 billion; however, the government must sell its stake by the beginning of 2022. The MEF reportedly is ready to take two steps to guarantee re-privatization of the distressed institution: 1) increase MPS’ capital by injecting €2.5 billion in capital from the Italian Treasury, and 2) allow conversion of approximately €3.7 billion of MPS’ tax assets into tax credits. Finally, the MEF is said to be considering a divestment of €10 billion of legal risk from the bank.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
A number of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) exist in Jordan. Twenty-two SOEs of different sizes and mandates are fully owned by the government. Wholly owned SOEs employ around 11,000 individuals, with assets exceeding $8 billion. The Government has more the 50 percent ownership in six companies, employing around 4,000 individuals, with total assets of $1.3 billion.
Most of the operational SOEs are small in terms of the size of operations, assets, number of employees, and income. The largest SOEs are: National Electrical Power Company (NEPCO), Samra Electric Power Company, the Yarmouk Water Company, and Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC).
Jordan’s economy is private sector led, accounting for 71 percent of GDP and 75 percent of net cumulative investment. SOEs in Jordan exercise delegated governmental powers and operating in fields that are not yet open for investment, such as managing the transmission and distribution of electrical power and water. Other activities include logistics, mining, storage and inventory management of strategic products, in addition to economic development activities. The government supports these companies as necessary, for example, the government has issued and guaranteed Treasury bonds for NEPCO since 2011 to ensure continuous power supply for the country.
SOEs generally compete on largely equal terms with private enterprises with respect to access to markets, credit, and other business operations. The law does not provide preferential treatment to SOEs, and they are held accountable by their Board of Directors, typically chaired by the sector-relevant Minister and the Audit Bureau.
The government, enterprises and NGOs are progressively taking initiatives to incorporate Responsible Business Conduct into their practices.
Jordan is not a party to the Government Procurement Agreement.
Over the last twenty years, the Jordanian government has engaged in a wide-scale privatization program, including in the telecom, energy, and transportation sectors. The few remaining government assets not privatized, including Jordan Silos and Supply Company, have elicited little private sector interest.
In 2020, Jordan adopted a new Public Private Partnership Law to support the government’s commitment to broadening the utilization of public-private sector partnerships (PPPs) and encouraging the private sector to play a larger role in the economy. The law does not limit PPPs to certain sectors, or nationalities. A PPP unit housed at the Prime Ministry supports the government in identifying and prioritizing projects, provides funding resources to cover pre-feasibility and feasibility studies, and oversees tendering processes. The PPP unit interacts with private sector and potential investors through promotional activities, market sounding exercises, and to discuss proposals. Communication during the bidding phase is strictly governed by the PPPs bylaw in line with international best practices. Once a contract is awarded, line ministries or entities will take over as main POCs for projects and their implementation. The PPP higher council will handle investors’ grievances throughout the project’s lifecycle. The unit has already identified a list of potential PPP projects in several sectors: water, energy, transport, tourism, education, health, environment, and ICT.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
The Lebanese government maintains several state-owned monopolies. State-owned Ogero owns and operates all fixed line telecommunications in Lebanon, while the two mobile operators, Touch and Alfa, are also owned by the state. While they were previously managed by Kuwait’s Zain and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, the Ministry of Telecommunications took over management of the two mobile operators in 2020. It has yet to announce tenders for new management contracts. Electricité du Liban (EdL) provides nation-wide electricity production and transmission, and four regional authorities provide water service.
La Régie des Tabacs et Tombacs conducts tobacco procurement, manufacturing, and sales, and Casino du Liban operates as a mixed public-private enterprise. The Central Bank owns 99.23 percent of the air carrier Middle East Airlines, whose monopoly is scheduled to end in 2024. Other major state-owned enterprises or public institutions include the Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon, and Tyre ports, the Rashid Karami International Fair (in northern Lebanon), the Sports City Center, and real estate development institution Elyssar. The government also owns shares in Intra Investment Co., a mixed public-private investment company that owns 96.62 percent of Finance Bank, a Lebanese commercial bank.
There is no uniform definition of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), and each has separate internal by-laws. Decree 4517 (dated 1972) establishes two types of public institutions, one administrative category that involves public enterprises such as the Lebanese University, and a second that holds commercial institutions such as EdL and La Régie. The Ministry of Finance maintains an unpublished list of SOEs and public institutions. SOEs and public institutions may purchase or supply goods or services from the private sector or foreign firms. Their procurement process is governed by separate regulations but under the same terms and conditions as public procurement. SOEs and public institutions benefit from certain tax exemptions.
The state electricity monopoly restricts production to EdL alone, but numerous private investors operate unregulated generators across the country and sell electricity to citizens at significantly higher rates during the country’s frequent power cuts. EdL awarded several concessions to privately-owned companies for power distribution in specific regions, and these companies are interested in meeting customer demand. Independent Power Producers (IPP) may provide municipalities with 10 MW of electricity without receiving a direct concession from EdL. In April 2014, Parliament granted the Cabinet authority through 2018 to license private companies to generate electricity (Law 288). On April 17, 2019, Parliament extended Law 288 and granted the Public Tender Office authority to oversee electricity contracts as part of the government’s electricity sector reform. Law 462 of 2002 called for the corporatization and privatization of the electricity sector, and the creation of an electricity regulatory authority (ERA). However, as implementation of the privatization law stalled, Law 288 delegated issuance of production permits and licenses for new electricity projects from ERA to the Lebanese government. Since 2012, EdL has contracted three private companies to manage bill collection, maintenance, and power distribution.
Lebanon’s SOEs report to shareholders, whereas public institutions are subject to oversight by the concerned ministries as well as by the Ministry of Finance. Public institutions require the approval of concerned ministries for major business decisions. SOEs may independently prepare their budgets, which must be approved only by their board of directors. The SOEs and public institutions are required by law to publish an annual report, submit their books for independent audits, and transmit their books to the Court of Audit.
The Lebanese government currently has no formal plans to privatize SOEs or public institutions. The April 30, 2020 economic reform plan did not specify any government privatization plans other than noting it would likely sell Casino du Liban. The plan also suggested the creation of a Public Asset Management Company (PAMC) to hold government assets, including government stakes in the “main state-owned enterprises and real estate.” Profits from the PAMC would go to fund capital increases of the Central Bank, which would in turn allow it to repay its liabilities to the local financial sector. The plan did not specify which state-owned assets would go into the PAMC or which would be privatized. Some political leaders and economists have called for SOE privatization to be a larger part of the government’s reform efforts. The Governor of the Central Bank previously stated plans to list 25 percent of Middle East Airlines (which is 99.23 percent owned by the Central Bank) on the BSE, but this has not happened.
SOEs and public institutions have independent boards staffed primarily by politically affiliated individuals, appointed by the Cabinet for public institutions, and by shareholders for SOEs. These boards always include a cabinet-appointed Government Commissioner who reports to the concerned ministries. SOEs do not currently adhere to the Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development (OECD) Corporate Governance Guidelines.
Lebanon enacted laws in 2002 for the privatization of the telecom sector (Law 431) and the electricity sector (Law 462). However, neither has been implemented.
Parliament passed a two-year law authorizing the Cabinet to issue Independent Power Producers (IPP) licenses to investors in April 2014. It later amended the law to extend its application through April 2018. On April 17, 2019, Parliament passed a new law extending the application of Law 288 through April 2021, granting the Tender Office authority to tender IPP projects. The Ministry of Energy and Water launched tenders in March 2017 for solar power plants under the IPP law and has issued three wind power plants licenses under IPP. It planned to issue tenders for two combined cycle gas turbine IPPs in September 2019, but those efforts stalled. The government reportedly now aims to procure IPPs on a bilateral government-to-company negotiation process, although no country has offered to finance construction of IPPs given Lebanon’s default status and sovereign risk.
The High Council for Privatization and Partnerships (HCP) manages privatization and public-private sector partnership (PPP) projects. In accordance with the provisions of the Privatization Law 228 and the PPP Law 48, the HCP conducts competitive tendering processes for both privatization and PPP projects. The PPP law introduced a legal framework to attract local and international private investments in infrastructure projects. The PPP legislation is published on the HCP website http://hcp.gov.lb. The HCP has yet to fully manage or complete any privatization project.
The Capital Markets Law calls for the corporatization and subsequent privatization of the Beirut Stock Exchange (BSE) within a two-year period from the date that the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) is appointed. The Cabinet appointed the CMA in June 2012, and in September 2017 issued a decree to corporatize the BSE. The corporatization has yet to occur.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
The most prominent state-owned enterprise (SOE) in Luxembourg is POST (formerly P&T, postal and telecommunications), whose sole shareholder is the government of Luxembourg and whose board of directors is composed of civil servants. POST responded to the competition created by new players in the market (Orange, Proximus) by transforming itself from a passive utility company into a commercial enterprise, recruiting from the corporate sector, and improving consumer products and services. POST also publishes an annual report and communicates in a similar manner to a private company.
Another sector in which SOEs have been very active is the energy sector (electric and gas utilities), which is now liberalized as well. Anyone can become a provider or distributor (via networks) of electricity and gas. The former state electricity utility, Cegedel, was absorbed into a private company, Encevo, along with a nearby German utility and the former state gas utility, with an independent board of directors. Creos, the new distribution network for energy, is jointly held by the government and private shareholders.
Finally, an important market which appears to have barriers to entry is freight air transport, due to the dominance of the majority state-owned Cargolux. It is the largest consumer of U.S. production in Luxembourg in terms of value, owing to their all-Boeing fleet of 30 747-freighter aircraft (including 14 of the new-generation 747-8F, of which Cargolux was a launch customer). It received a capital increase from the Luxembourg government in return for a larger share ownership of the company.
China has invested in Cargolux, with a Chinese regional fund currently holding approximately one-third of the shares. Cargolux has aggressively expanded in China.
Private enterprises can compete with public enterprises in Luxembourg under the same terms and conditions in all respects. All markets are now open or have been liberalized via EU directives to encourage market competition over monopolistic entities. There is a national regulator (National Institute of Regulation), which sets forth regulations and standards for economic sectors, mostly derived from EU directives transposed into local law. While markets continue to open, the government has maintained a large enough stake in critical sectors such as energy, to ensure national security.
OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of SOEs
Luxembourg is an OECD member with established practices consistent with OECD guidelines as far as SOEs are concerned. There is no centralized ownership entity that exercises ownership rights for each of the SOEs.
In general, if the government has a share in an enterprise, they will receive board of directors’ seats on a comparable basis to other shareholders and in proportion to their share, with no formal management reporting directly to a line minister.
The court processes are transparent and non-discriminatory.
Foreign investors can participate equally in ongoing privatization programs, and the bidding process is transparent with no barriers erected against foreign investors at the time of the initial investment or after the investment is made. Moreover, there are no laws or regulations specifically authorizing private firms to adopt articles of incorporation or association, which limit or prohibit foreign investment, participation, or control. There are no other practices by private firms to force local ownership or restrict foreign investment, participation in, or control of domestic enterprises. There has been no evidence to suggest that potential conflicts of interest exist. Government officials sitting on boards of directors do not appear to have impacted freedom of investment in the private sector.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
State-owned enterprises which in Malaysia are called government-linked companies (GLCs), play a very significant role in the Malaysian economy. Such enterprises have been used to spearhead infrastructure and industrial projects. A 2017 analysis by the University of Malaya estimated that the government owns approximately 42 percent of the value of firms listed on the Bursa Malaysia through its seven Government-Linked Investment Corporations (GLICs), including a majority stake in a number of companies. Only a minority portion of stock is available for trading for some of the largest publicly listed local companies. Khazanah, often considered the government’s sovereign wealth fund, owns stakes in companies competing in many of the country’s major industries including aerospace, construction, energy, finance, information & communication, and marine technologies. The Prime Minister chairs Khazanah’s Board of Directors. PETRONAS, the state-owned oil and gas company, is Malaysia’s only Fortune Global 500 firm.
As part of its Government Linked Companies (GLC) Transformation Program, the Malaysian Government embarked on a two-pronged strategy to reduce its shares across a range of companies and to make those companies more competitive through improved corporate governance. The Transformation Program pushes for more independent and professionalized board membership, but the OECD noted in 2018 that in practice shareholder oversight is lax and government officials exert influence over corporate boards.
Among the notable divestments of recent years, Khazanah offloaded its stake in the national car company Proton to DRB-Hicom Bhd in 2012. In 2013, Khazanah divested its holdings in telecommunications services giant Time Engineering Bhd. Khazanah’s annual report for 2017 noted only that the fund had completed 12 divestments that produced a gain of RM 2.5 billion (USD 625 million). In 2018, Khazanah partially divested its shares in IHH Healthcare Berhad, saw two successful IPOs, and issued USUSD 321 million in exchangeable sukuk. However, significant losses at domestic companies including at Axiata, Telekom Malaysia, Tenaga Nasional, IHH Healthcare Berhad, CIMB Bank, and Malaysia Airports led to the pre-tax loss of USD 1.52 billion the company experienced in 2018. In April 2019, Khazanah sold 1.5 percent of its stake in Tenaga Nasional on Bursa Malaysia, after which Khazanah still owned 27.27 percent of the national electric company. In its annual review for 2020, Khazanah posted lower divestment gains of RM2.7 billion (USD675 million) compared to RM9.9 billion (USD2.25 billion) in 2019.
GLCs with publicly traded shares must produce audited financial statements every year. These SOEs must also submit filings related to changes in the organization’s management. The SOEs that do not offer publicly traded shares are required to submit annual reports to the Companies Commission. The requirement for publicly reporting the financial standing and scope of activities of SOEs has increased their transparency. It is also consistent with the OECD’s guideline for Transparency and Disclosure. Moreover, many SOEs prioritize operations that maximize their earnings.
The close relationships SOEs have with senior government officials, however, blur the line between strictly commercial activity pursued for its own sake and activity that has been directed to advance a policy interest. For example, Petroliam Nasional Berhad (PETRONAS) is both an SOE in the oil and gas sector and the regulator of the industry. Malaysia Airlines (MAS), in which the government previously held 70 percent but now holds 100 percent, required periodic infusions of resources from the government to maintain the large numbers of company’s staff and senior executives.
The Ministry of Finance holds significant minority stakes in five companies including a 50% stake in the financial guarantee insurer Danajamin Nasional Berhad. The government also holds a golden share in 32 companies from key industries such as aerospace, marine technology, energy industries and ports. The Ministry of Finance maintains a list of 70 companies directly controlled by the Minister of Finance Incorporated, known as MOF Inc, the largest Government Linked Investment Company (GLIC). The seven GLICs in Malaysia are also listed. However, a comprehensive list of the more than 200 GLCs that are controlled by these seven investment companies is not readily available. For more information, please visit: https://www.mof.gov.my/index.php/en/profile/divisions/government-investment-companies. Links to the sources of regulation and authorities can be found here:
With formal and informal ties between board members and government, Malaysian SOEs (GLCs) may have access to capital and financial protection from bankruptcy as well as reduced pressure to deliver profits to government shareholders. The legal framework establishing GLCs under Malaysian law specifically seeks economic opportunity for Bumiputera entrepreneurs. There is some empirical evidence, published by the Asian Development Bank, that SOEs crowd out private investment in Malaysia.
Malaysia participates in OECD corporate governance engagements and continues to work on full adherence to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs through its Government Linked Companies (GLC) Transformation Program. The National Resource Governance Institute’s Resource Governance Index rates Malaysia as weak on governance of its oil and gas sector; however, Malaysia also ranks as 27th among 89 rated countries, in the top third.
In several key sectors, including transportation, agriculture, utilities, financial services, manufacturing, and construction, Government Linked Corporations (GLCs) continue to dominate the market. However, the Malaysian Government remains publicly committed to the continued, eventual privatization, though it has not set a timeline for the process and faces substantial political pressure to preserve the roles of the GLCs. The Malaysian Government established the Public-Private Partnership Unit (UKAS) in 2009 to provide guidance and administrative support to businesses interested in privatization projects as well as large-scale government procurement projects. UKAS, which used to be a part of the Office of the Prime Minister, is now under the Ministry of Finance. UKAS oversees transactions ranging from contracts and concessions to sales and transfers of ownership from the public sector to the private sector.
Foreign investors may participate in privatization programs, but foreign ownership is limited to 25 percent of the privatized entity’s equity. The National Development Policy confers preferential treatment to the Bumiputera, which are entitled to at least 30 percent of the privatized entity’s equity.
The privatization process is formally subject to public bidding. However, the lack of transparency has led to criticism that the government’s decisions tend to favor individuals and businesses with close ties to high-ranking officials.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Mali has privatized or reduced government involvement in a number of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). However, there are still 45 state-owned or partially state-owned companies in Mali, including 12 mining companies, five banks, the national electricity company (EDM), a telecommunications entity (SOTELMA), a cotton ginning company (CMDT), a cigarette company (SONATAM), sugar companies (SUKALA and N-SUKALA), and the Bamako-Senou Airport. The government no longer has shares in two banks, BSIC-Mali, Coris Bank International-Mali, in which it had respectively 25 and 10 percent shares as of December 2017. The government reduced its shares in the Malian Development Bank (BDM) and Malian Solidarity Bank (BMS) while it maintained its share in the Banque Nationale de Developpement Agricole (BNDA) which increased its total capital stock by 21.5 percent in 2019 compared with 2018. More details on SOEs are available here.
Private and public enterprises compete under the same terms and conditions. No preferential treatment is given to SOEs, although they can be at a competitive disadvantage due to the limited flexibility they have in their management decision-making process. Malian law guarantees equal treatment for financing, land access, tax burden, tax rebate, and access to raw materials for private firms and SOEs.
The government is active in the agricultural sector. The parastatal Niger River Authority (Office du Niger) controls much of the irrigated rice fields and vegetable production in the Niger River inland delta, although some private operators have been granted plots of land to develop. The Office du Niger encourages both national and foreign private investment to develop the farmlands it manages. Under an MCC-funded irrigation project, Mali granted titles to small private farmers; an adjacent tranche developed with MCC was to have been open to large-scale private investment through a public tender process. However, all MCC projects were suspended as a result of the coup d’état of March 2012 and discontinued when the projects reached the end of their implementation deadline. The national cotton production company, CMDT, which is yet to be privatized, provides financing for fertilizers and inputs to cotton farmers, sets cotton prices, purchases cotton from producers, and exports cotton fiber via ports in neighboring countries.
The government also remains active in the banking sector. The state owns shares in five of the 14 banks in Mali: BDM (19.5 percent share), BIM (10.5 percent), BNDA (36.5 percent), BMS (13.8 percent), and BCS (3.3 percent). While the government no longer has a majority stake in BDM, it has significant influence over its management, including the privilege to appoint the head of the Board of Directors.
Senior government officials from different ministries make up the boards of SOEs. Major procurement decisions or equity raising decisions are referred to the Council of Ministers. Government powers remain in the hands of ministries or government agencies reporting to the ministries. No SOE has delegated powers from the government.
SOEs are required by law to publish an annual report. They hold a mandatory annual board of directors meeting to discuss financial statements prepared by a certified accountant and certified by an outside auditor in accordance with domestic standards (which are comparable to international financial reporting standards). Mali’s independent Auditor General conducts an annual review of public spending, which may result in the prosecution of cases of corruption. Audits of several state-owned mining companies have revealed significant irregularities.
The government’s privatization program for state enterprises provides investment opportunities through a process of open international bidding. Foreign companies have responded successfully to calls for bids in several cases. The government publishes announcements for bids in the government-owned daily newspaper, L’Essor. The process is non-discriminatory in principle; however, there have been many allegations of corruption in public procurement.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
SOEs and the parastatal sector in Mauritania represent important drivers of the economy. They have an impact on employment, service delivery, and most importantly fiscal reserves given their importance to the economy and the state budget. In 2020 parastatal companies and SOEs experienced significant business and financial problems in the form of increasing levels of debt, operational losses, and payment delays because of the COVID pandemic. This increase in fiscal reserve risk led the government to provide subsidies to SOEs.
Hard budget constraints for SOEs are written into the Public Procurement Code but are not enforced. SOMELEC, the state-owned electricity company, has been operating in a precarious financial situation for many years. The majority of larger, wholly government-owned enterprises operated, in principle, on a commercial basis. But, many have operated at a loss since the 1970s and failed to provide the services for which they were responsible.
Most state-owned enterprises in Mauritania have independent boards of directors. The directors are usually appointed based on political affiliations.
There are about 120 SOEs and parastatal companies active in a wide range of sectors including energy, network utilities, mining, petroleum, telecommunications, transportation, commerce, and fisheries. Parastatal and wholly owned SOEs remain the major employers in the country. This includes the National Mining Company, SNIM, which is by far the largest Mauritanian enterprise and the second largest employer in the country after the government.
The publicly available financial information on parastatal and wholly owned SOEs is incomplete and outdated, with the exception of budget transfers. There is no publication of the expenditures SOEs allocate to research and development. In addition, they execute the largest portion of government contracts, receiving preference over the private sector. According to the Public Procurement Code, there are no formal barriers to competition with SOEs. However, informal barriers such as denial of access to credit and/or land exist.
Post is not aware of any privatization programs during the reporting period.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Boards of directors (in single-tier boards) or supervisory boards (in dual-tier boards) oversee Moroccan SOEs. The Financial Control Act and the Limited Liability Companies Act govern these bodies. The Ministry of Economy and Finance’s Department of Public Enterprises and Privatization monitors SOE governance. Pursuant to Law No. 69-00, SOE annual accounts are publicly available. Under Law No. 62-99, or the Financial Jurisdictions Code, the Court of Accounts and the Regional Courts of Accounts audit the management of a number of public enterprises. As of March 2021, the Moroccan Treasury held a direct share in 225 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and 43 companies. A list of SOEs is available on the Ministry of Finance’s website.
Several sectors remain under public monopoly, managed either directly by public institutions (rail transport, some postal services, and airport services) or by municipalities (wholesale distribution of fruit and vegetables, fish, and slaughterhouses). The Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP), a public limited company that is 95 percent held by the Moroccan government, is a world-leading exporter of phosphate and derived products. Morocco has opened several traditional government activities using delegated-management or concession arrangements to private domestic or foreign operators, which are generally subject to tendering procedures. Examples include water and electricity distribution, construction and operation of motorways, and the management of non-hazardous wastes. In some cases, SOEs continue to control the infrastructure while allowing private-sector competition through concessions. SOEs benefit from budgetary transfers from the state treasury for investment expenditures.
Morocco established the Moroccan National Commission on Corporate Governance in 2007. It prepared the first Moroccan Code of Good Corporate Governance Practices in 2008. In 2011, the Commission drafted a code dedicated to SOEs, drawing on the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of SOEs. The code, which came into effect in 2012, aims to enhance SOEs’ overall performance. It requires greater use of standardized public procurement and accounting rules, outside audits, the inclusion of independent directors, board evaluations, greater transparency, and better disclosure. The Moroccan government prioritizes a number of governance-related initiatives including an initiative to help SOEs contribute to the emergence of regional development clusters. The government is also attempting to improve the use of multi-year contracts with major SOEs as a tool to enhance performance and transparency.
The government relaunched Morocco’s privatization program in the 2019 budget. Parliament enacted the updated annex to Law 38-89 (which authorizes the transfer of publicly held shares to the private sector) in February 2019 through publication in the official bulletin, including the list of entities to be privatized. The state still holds significant shares in the main telecommunications companies, banks, and insurance companies, as well as railway and air transport companies. In 2020, King Mohamed VI called for a sweeping reform to address the structural deficiencies of SOEs, after which the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Administration Reform announced plans to consolidate SOEs with overlapping missions, dissolve unproductive SOEs, and reorganize others to increase efficiencies. The government also authorized the establishment of the Mohammed VI Investment Fund, a public-limited company with initial capital of $4.7 billion to fund growth-generating projects through PPPs. The fund will contribute capital directly to large public and private companies operating in areas considered priorities. Public and private institutions will be able to collectively hold up to 49 percent of the Fund’s shares once the fund is fully operational.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
The Dutch government maintains an equity stake in a small number of enterprises and some ownership in companies that play an important role in strategic sectors. In particular, government-controlled entities retain dominant positions in gas and electricity distribution, rail transport, and the water management sector. The Netherlands has an extensive public broadcasting network, which generates its own income through advertising revenues but also receives government subsidies. For a complete list of all 32 government-owned entities, please see: https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/staatsdeelnemingen/vraag-en-antwoord/in-welke-ondernemingen-heeft-de-overheid-aandelen
Private enterprises are allowed to compete with public enterprises with respect to market access, credits, and other business operations such as licenses and supplies. Government-appointed supervisory boards oversee state-owned enterprises (SOEs). In some instances involving large investment decisions, SOEs must consult with the cabinet ministry that oversees them. As with any other firm in the Netherlands, SOEs must publish annual reports, and their financial accounts must be audited. The Netherlands fully adheres to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of SOEs.
There are no ongoing privatization programs in the Netherlands.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Panama has 16 non-financial State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) and 8 financial SOEs that are included in the budget and broken down by enterprise. Each SOE has a Board of Directors with Ministerial participation. SOEs are required to send a report to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Comptroller General’s Office, and the Budget Committee of the National Assembly within the first ten days of each month showing their budget implementation. The reports detail income, expenses, investments, public debt, cash flow, administrative management, management indicators, programmatic achievements, and workload. SOEs are also required to submit quarterly financial statements. SOEs are audited by the Comptroller General’s Office.
The National Electricity Transmission Company (ETESA) is an example of an SOE in the energy sector, and Tocumen Airport and the National Highway Company (ENA) are SOEs in the transportation sector. Financial allocations and earnings from SOEs are publicly available at the Official Digital Gazette (http://www.gacetaoficial.gob.pa/). There is a website under construction that will consolidate information on SOEs: https://panamagov.org/organo-ejecutivo/empresas-publicas/#.
Panama’s privatization framework law does not distinguish between foreign and domestic investor participation in prospective privatizations. The law calls for pre-screening of potential investors or bidders in certain cases to establish technical capability, but nationality and Panamanian participation are not criteria. The Government of Panama undertook a series of privatizations in the mid-1990s, including most of the country’s electricity generation and distribution, its ports, and its telecommunications sector. There are presently no privatization plans for any major state-owned enterprise.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
Peru wholly owns 35 state-owned enterprises (SOEs), 34 of which are under the parastatal conglomerate FONAFE. The list of SOEs under FONAFE can be found here: https://www.fonafe.gob.pe/empresasdelacorporacion. FONAFE appoints an independent board of directors for each SOE using a transparent selection process. There is no notable third-party analysis on SOEs’ ties to the government. The largest SOE is PetroPeru which refines oil, operates Peru’s main oil pipeline, and maintains a stake in select concessions. SOE ownership practices are generally consistent with OECD guidelines.
The GOP initiated an extensive privatization program in 1991, in which foreign investors were encouraged to participate. Since 2000, the GOP has promoted multi-year concessions as a means of attracting investment in major projects, including a 30-year concession to a private group (Lima Airport Partners) to operate the Lima airport in 2000 and a 30-year concession to Dubai Ports World to improve and operate a new container terminal in the Port of Callao in 2006.
Republic of the Congo
7. State-Owned Enterprises
As a former people’s republic, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) dominated the Congolese economy of the 1970s and 1980s. The number of SOEs remains comparatively small following a wave of privatization in the 1990s. The national oil company (SNPC), electricity company (E2C), and water supply company (LCDE) constitute the largest remaining SOEs. SOEs report to their respective ministries.
Constraints on SOEs operating in the non-oil sector appear sufficiently monitored and subject to civil society and media scrutiny. The operations of SNPC, however, continue to present transparency concerns. SOEs must publish annual reports subject to examination by the government’s supreme audit institution. In practice, these examinations do not always occur.
The government publishes no official list of SOEs.
Private companies may compete with public companies and have in some cases won contracts sought by SOEs. Government budget constraints limit SOE’s operations.
ROC has no known privatization programs.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
According to the World Bank, there are approximately 1,200 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in Romania, of which around 300 are majority-owned by the Romanian government. There is no published list of all SOEs since some are subordinated to the national government and some to local authorities. SOEs are governed by executive boards under the supervision of administration boards. Implementation of the Corporate Governance Code (Law 111/2016) remains incomplete and uneven.
SOEs are required by law to publish an annual report. Majority state-owned companies that are publicly listed, as well as state-owned banks, are required to be independently audited. Many SOEs are currently managed by interim boards, often with politically appointed members that lack sector and business expertise. The EC’s 2020 European Semester Country Report for Romania noted that the Corporate Governance Law is still only loosely applied. The appointment of interim boards has become standard practice. Administrative offences carry symbolic penalties, which do not change behavior. The operational and financial results of most state-owned enterprises deteriorated in 2019 and 2020.
Privatization has stalled since 2014. The government has repeatedly postponed IPOs for hydropower producer Hidroelectrica, though its sale is currently slated for end-2021 pending repeal of the ban on the sales of state equities
As a member of the EU, Romania is required to notify the EC’s General Directorate for Competition regarding significant privatizations and related state aid. Prospective investors should seek assistance from legal counsel to ensure compliance with relevant legislation. The state aid schemes aim to enhance regional development and job creation through financial support for new jobs or investment in new manufacturing assets. The Ministry of Finance issues public calls for applications under the schemes. The government’s failure to consult with, and then formally notify, the EC properly has resulted in delays and complications in some previous privatizations.
Private enterprises compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions with respect to market access and credit. Energy production, transportation, and mining are majority state-owned sectors, and the government retains majority equity in electricity and natural gas transmission. The Ministry of Energy has authority over energy generation assets and natural gas production. According to the EU’s Third Energy Package directives, the same entity cannot control generation, production and/or supply activities, and at the same time control or exercise any right over a transmission system operator (TSO). Consequently, natural gas carrier Transgaz and national electricity carrier Transelectrica are under the Government’s General Secretariat. The Ministry of Infrastructure has authority over the entities in the transportation sector, including rail carrier CFR Marfa, national air carrier Tarom, and the Constanta Port Administration. There are currently no plans to privatize companies in the transportation sector.
Romanian law allows for the inclusion of confidentiality clauses in privatization and public-private partnership contracts to protect business proprietary and other information. However, in certain high-profile privatizations, parliament has compelled the public disclosure of such provisions.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
As of 2020, the sectors with active State-owned enterprises (SOEs) include mining, banking, telecom, and transportation. The full list can be found here: https://www.hmb.gov.tr/kamu-sermayeli-kurulus-ve-isletme-raporlari. Allegations of unfair practices by SOEs are minimal, and the U.S. Mission is not aware of any ongoing complaints by U.S. firms. Turkey is not a party to the World Trade Organization’s Government Procurement Agreement. Turkey is a member of the OECD Working Party on State Ownership and Privatization Practices, and OECD’s compliance regulations and new laws enacted in 2012 by the Turkish Competitive Authority closely govern SOE operations.
The GOT has made some progress on privatization over the last decade. Of 278 companies that the state once owned, 210 are fully privatized. According to the Ministry of Treasury and Finance’s Privatization Administration, transactions completed under the Turkish privatization program generated USD 609 million in 2019 and USD 677 in 2020. See: https://www.oib.gov.tr/.
The GOT has indicated its commitment to continuing the privatization process despite the contraction in global capital flows. However, other measures, such as the creation of a sovereign wealth fund with control over major SOEs, suggests that the government currently sees greater benefit in using some public assets to raise additional debt rather than privatizing them. Accordingly, the GOT has shelved plans to increase privatization of Turkish Airlines and instead moved them and other SOEs into the TVF. Additional information can be found at the Ministry of Treasury and Finance’s Privatization Administration website: https://www.oib.gov.tr/.