The Privatising Industry in Europe

24 February 2016 by Sol Trumbo Vila , Matthijs Peters

Privatisations of state-owned assets have become a central plank of EU/Troika agreements with debtor nations such as Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal, but there has been little examination of their track record nor an examination of who really benefits. This report puts a spotlight on the legal and financial corporate giants making millions out of the new wave of privatisations across Europe.

In the last years the Troika Troika Troika: IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank, which together impose austerity measures through the conditions tied to loans to countries in difficulty.

(made up of the European Commission, European Central Bank Central Bank The establishment which in a given State is in charge of issuing bank notes and controlling the volume of currency and credit. In France, it is the Banque de France which assumes this role under the auspices of the European Central Bank (see ECB) while in the UK it is the Bank of England.

and the International Monetary Fund IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
) has pushed through privatisation programmes in indebted EU countries, despite major popular opposition. This briefing examines the consequences of those privatisations. It puts a spotlight on the process, exposes the corporate players that have profited, and examines whether the sale of state-owned assets has delivered on its proponents’ promises.

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A close examination of nine high-profile privatisation deals across Europe shows that:

- A small coterie of legal, financial and accountancy firms, many based in the UK are reaping huge profits from the new wave of crisis-prompted privatisations. The firms include the financial advisory firms NM Rothschild, the UK law firms Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Clifford Chance, Allen & Overy, and Norton Rose Fulbright, and the accountancy firms based in London PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young. They also actively promote privatisation at the European level.

- A number of the key lead corporate players, such as Lazard, have been involved in both advising on privatisation and then profiting from their advice. In the case of Royal Mail, Lazard made an £8 million profit Profit The positive gain yielded from a company’s activity. Net profit is profit after tax. Distributable profit is the part of the net profit which can be distributed to the shareholders. from purchasing and then reselling shares.

- The rationale put forward by advocates of privatisation does not stand up to the evidence. Privatisation has failed to provide promised revenue as only profitable firms are being sold and consistently at undervalued prices. Meanwhile the latest research by the IMF and by European universities show that there is no evidence that the privatised firms are more efficient than state-owned firms.

- Despite the rhetoric in favour of private management, many of those who win concessions and buy formerly privatised assets are state-owned companies. Chinese state-owned corporations, in particular, have become dominant players in buying up European energy companies in Portugal, Greece and Italy.

- Privatisation in Europe has encouraged a growth in corruption, with frequent cases of nepotism and conflicts of interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. emerging in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the UK

Source : TNI

Sol Trumbo Vila

Investigador en el Transnational Institute (TNI) y activista en varias redes internacionales como la “Campaña global para desmantelar el poder corporativo y poner fin a la impunidad”

Other articles in English by Sol Trumbo Vila (3)

Other articles in English by Matthijs Peters (1)




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