The economic theory of privatization, surveyed in Chapter 1 , has seldom been tested in a comprehensive cross country empirical analysis.
The first step of our empirical work consists in a preliminary description of the privatization processes in the various regions of the world. 1 In the Introduction we noticed that in the 1977-2001 period privatization experienced an exponential growth until the second half of the 1990s and then started to decline from 1999 onwards (see Figure 1.1). In this chapter we will review its implementation within the main geographic regions, analysing the process in terms of: extent, measured by the number of transactions and their revenues; 2 time frames; choice of privatization methods (public offering or direct placement); the main sectors involved; the stake sold; the opening of capital to foreigners; the existence of golden share mechanisms (the special rights retained by governments after privatization). Within each area, we will highlight the most interesting national experiences according to the criteria by which we evaluate the quantity and quality of privatization around the world.
Naturally, this descriptive analysis does not pretend to be complete, nor does it want to retrace in detail every privatization in each country. It aims rather at providing a framework for highlighting similarities and differences. To avoid too much detailed description we will refer to charts and tables.
The first aggregation of data, referring to the period 1977-2001, provides a breakdown of the privatization processes by main geographic areas, separately examining the number of transactions and revenues.
The international comparison of the number of deals shows that Western Europe has implemented the greatest number of transactions, followed by Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, Asia, and Latin America (see Figure 2.1). 3