Saudi Aramco IPO could herald a Riyadh garage sale

January 12, 2016

The IPO of a strategic stake in Saudi Aramco could be the start of a kingdom-wide selloff of state assets. The government owns stakes in locally listed firms worth $170 billion. By spinning these off to compensate for lower oil revenue, it could fund years of budget deficits.

Italy regains market cred with Poste Italiane IPO

October 23, 2015

The 3.4 bln euro sale of shares in the post office was oversubscribed – even though the company remains mainly government-owned and it does little to cut Italy’s debt. Still, the country now looks open for business and has atoned for an earlier botched privatisation of Fincantieri.

UK retreat from RBS is more important than value

March 6, 2015

Chancellor George Osborne now wants to return the bank rapidly to private hands after May’s election. Both strategy and governance have been flawed. Britain is wary of starting to reduce its 79 pct stake at a loss. But that’s a price worth paying to put RBS on a stable footing.

Japan needs more than apologies on insider trades

June 22, 2012

Handing a $6 bln privatization to Nomura’s rivals after the bank apologized for leaking earlier share sales seemed like a government rebuke. But Nomura probably lost fair and square. Either way, Tokyo needs to make leaks illegal and trying to profit on them much more painful.

RBS needs to make the case for freedom

May 3, 2013

One-off charges receded in the UK bank’s first quarter, although core operations struggled. The results will gee the government to start selling down its dominant stake in 2014. But the bank has to show why a quick sale - at a loss - is good economics as well as good politics.

Shareholders bear the privatised pensions pain

November 6, 2009

It's a long time since Cable & Wireless and British Airways were sold off by the UK government, in that helpful confluence of party ideology and the need for money that gave the world privatisation. Yet only now is the true cost of promises made to their employees a generation ago becoming apparent.

Privatisations a bright spot for gloomy Aussie M&A

February 13, 2014

Australia is set for a bumper year of asset sales as cash-constrained local governments flog existing infrastructure to fund new projects. Federal disposals may further boost volumes. That’s a welcome diversion for investment bankers facing another slow year for deals Down Under.

How to avoid another second-class UK privatisation

April 1, 2014

Royal Mail’s IPO looks awfully cheap in hindsight. So an official post-mortem will embarrass politicians and bankers alike. Still, there are lessons for future privatisations. Sell down slowly, be more flexible in book-building, and handle retail offers with extreme care.