We study the change in government control of privatized firms in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. At the end of 2000, after the largest privatization wave in history, governments retained control of 62.4% of privatized firms. In civil law countries, governments tend to retain large ownership positions, whereas in common law countries they typically use golden shares. When we combine these two mechanisms, we find no association between a country's legal tradition and the extent of government control. Rather, we document more prevalent government influence over privatized firms in countries with proportional electoral rules and with a centralized system of political authority. The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Financial Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org., Oxford University Press.
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