Working paper 01/041 - Abstract

Privatisation of Utilities and the Asset Value Problem

Paul Grout, Andrew Jenkins*, and Ania Zalewska

*Institute of Education, University of London

Privatised companies are typically charachterised by both undervaluation and underpricing. When faced with this problem, regulators have tended to employ a market value approach to determine the regulatory asset base. This paper analyses this approach and shows that any error at privatisation is magnified and that relative errors remain entrenched for ever. We suggest an alternative, i.e., the regulatory agency's own estimate of the company's value and show that errors made at the time of privatisation do not have the same impact on future prices and hence far less effect on the potential sale price.

Published in European Economic Review 48 (4) 927-941

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