The Unintended Consequences of State Ownership: The Brazilian Experience
Theoretical Inquiries in Law, v. 13, n. 2, 2012
22 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2011 Last revised: 7 Aug 2013
Date Written: October 1, 2012
Despite prior waves of privatization around the world, state ownership of enterprise remains significant. The focus of scholars and policymakers has accordingly shifted from the defense and promotion of privatization to the design and improvement of corporate governance practices in state-owned enterprises (SOEs). A broad consensus emerged suggesting that state-owned firms should be corporatized, publicly traded and subject to the greatest extent possible to the same legal regime applicable to private firms. However, by focusing exclusively on what corporate and securities laws can do to increase the efficiency of state enterprise, this view ignores the other side of the problem: how does the presence of SOEs affect the efficiency of corporate and securities laws as they apply to private firms?
Brazil’s long historical experience with SOEs suggests that state ownership of listed firms can have unintended consequences that go beyond the potential firm mismanagement if the state pursues political goals inconsistent with shareholder wealth maximization. The state’s financial interest as the controlling shareholder of listed firms can lead it to disfavor legal reforms that improve minority shareholder rights, thus impairing the ability of private firms to raise outside financing. In ignoring the state’s conflicts of interest inherent in its dual role as shareholder and regulator, the conventional wisdom has likely overestimated the aggregate benefits of a unitary corporate law regime for both state-owned and private firms.
Keywords: State Ownership, Corporate Governance, Investor Protection
JEL Classification: G32, G38, K22, N26, O16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation