Advances in Competition Policy Enforcement in the EU and North America
Edited by Abel M. Mateus and Teresa Moreira
Chapter 20: Ownership, Performance and National Champions
Damien Neven1 1. INTRODUCTION There is no commonly accepted definition of what a national champion may be. The terminology is generally used to refer to companies which are subject to a particular treatment from governments because of some national dimension in their operation. At the most general level, the location of assets introduces a national dimension in the operation of a firm and governments may wish to interfere with the management of assets, at least when it takes a particular significance from their own perspective. The most common interference may take the form of a restriction on the control of the assets, and in particular restrictions on the nationality of shareholders. This policy may rest on the presumption that the decisions of shareholders will be affected by their nationality and that national shareholders may, because of the system of incentives and constraints that they face, end up taking decisions that may be more closely aligned with those that the government would favour. Governments may of course also anticipate that they may have more leverage over national shareholders in case of divergence. Another type of common interference involves the implementation of regulation. For instance, merger control rules may be relaxed for firms with domestic assets. State aids may be awarded on different terms. Sector regulation may be implemented differently both in terms of opportunities (for instance in terms of access prices) and in terms of obligations (for instance in terms of investment in particular technologies or the coordination of investment to...
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