The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
State-owned enterprises (SOEs) play an important role in Emerging Europe's economies,
notably in the energy and transport sectors. Based on a new firm-level dataset, this paper
reviews the SOE landscape, assesses SOE performance across countries and vis-à-vis
private firms, and evaluates recent SOE governance reform experience in 11 Emerging
European countries, as well as Sweden as a benchmark. Profitability and efficiency of
resource allocation of SOEs lag those of private firms in most sectors, with substantial
cross-country variation. Poor SOE performance raises three main risks: large and risky
contingent liabilities could stretch public finances; sizeable state ownership of banks
coupled with poor governance could threaten financial stability; and negative productivity
spillovers could affect the economy at large. SOE governance frameworks are partly weak
and should be strengthened along three lines: fleshing out a consistent ownership policy;
giving teeth to financial oversight; and making SOE boards more professional.