NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Britain To Privatize Air-Traffic Control

November 30, 2000

Don't look for Britain to sell off shares of its air-traffic control system to the public. What is called "privatization" is a much more timid step than that. The government will still retain much control and have a major say in how the new company, National Air Traffic Services Ltd., operates in the future.

However, the for-profit corporation will include participation by business stakeholders:

  • Forty-nine percent of shares in the so-called "public-private partnership" are being reserved for the successful bidder among one of three outside investor groups -- largely alliances between major air-industry companies, including Lockheed-Martin Corp. of the U.S.
  • Forty-six percent of the company will remain in state hands -- and 5 percent of shares will go to employees.
  • The state will also keep a so-called "golden share" that grants it extra control over the company's future.
  • The government expects the privatization to take place in March.

The U.K. government expects to raise the U.S. equivalent of $1.42 billion from the sale.

Source: Marc Champion, "Britain's Air-Traffic Control to be Privatized in March," Wall Street Journal, November 30, 2000.


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