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Ultimate privatization and change in firm performance: Evidence from China

By Zhangkai Huang and Kun Wang

Abstract

We extend the current empirical literature on privatization by exploring the effect of ultimate privatization on the performance of Chinese listed companies. Ultimate privatization is defined as the incidence of transferring the ultimate control of a state-owned company from the government to private owners. Using a sample of 127 Chinese listed companies that have had controlling blocks transferred from the government to private owners, we show that firm performance improved significantly following this transfer. In addition, gains in profitability and efficiency are more prominent when the new controlling shareholder is an "outsider", one who does not own shares in the company prior to the transfer of control. Our results suggest that the Chinese government should continue to reduce its controlling ownership in listed companies, as the transfer of control to private owners enhances operating efficiency and profitability.Ultimate privatization Control transfer State-owned enterprises Insider Outsider

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