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Surviving and Competing Successfully? Internationalisation of State-Owned Companies in Central and Eastern Europe

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The Political Economy of Emerging Markets and Alternative Development Paths

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State-owned enterprises (SOEs) were expected to disappear after the socialist economies of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) started embracing capitalism through massive privatisation. However, certain SOEs have survived and have been playing an increasingly important role in the national economies—and some of them even internationally. The chapter analyses SOE multinational companies (MNCs), which are among the most important, nationally owned outward investing firms in the four Visegrad economies. The chapter shows their similarities (e.g. activities, relative size, hybrid nature) and differences as well as constant changes in their ownership. Furthermore, their internationalization path and the role of the state are shown.

Research for this chapter was supported by the Hungarian research fund NKFIH (no. 132442). The chapter is an updated and extended version of a paper written for a book in honour of Satoshi Mizobata.

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  1. 1.

    Table 23.1 on p. 573.

  2. 2.

    Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China, and South Africa.

  3. 3.

    Tables 3 and 4 on pp. 21 and 22 in Kowalski et al. (2013)

  4. 4.

    Slovakia did not provide data.

  5. 5.

    The 18 analysed countries are: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.

  6. 6.

    See, e.g. the report of the Transparency International Slovakia or Nechala et al. (2015), which concentrated on the operational transparency of publicly-owned companies in Slovakia. In the various fields related to transparency the score was lowest for Slovak SOEs compared to Czech, Slovak private and foreign companies. 81 state-, city- or county-owned companies were analysed. State-owned ones dominate (a total of 43), followed by city-owned (34) and county-owned (4).

  7. 7.

    However, according to Szarzec et al. (2021), state ownership of between 25 and 50% was negligible in terms of the share in total assets in the Visegrad countries, with the exception of Poland.

  8. 8.

  9. 9.

  10. 10.;

  11. 11.

  12. 12.

    Furthermore, in December 2015 the Italian (actually state-owned) utility company Enel signed an agreement with the Ministry of Economy granting the state an option to increase its stake in Slovenske Elektrarne, which controls 73% of the domestic electricity generation market, by an additional 17% (thus reaching a 51% majority), see

  13. 13.

  14. 14.

    This analysis is carried out on eight countries, the Visegrad countries + Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania and Slovenia.

  15. 15.

    TFP: total factor productivity, measures the efficiency of the contribution of the inputs (labour and capital) to production.

  16. 16.

  17. 17.

  18. 18.

    However, it is important to note that according to Mizobata and Iwasaki (2016), there can be numerous methodological problems in the various analyses of the relationship between ownership structure and performance in the case of privatised companies.

  19. 19.

    Here again, Mizobata and Iwasaki (2016) underline significant methodological problems in the various analyses of the relationship between ownership structure and performance in the case of privatised companies.

  20. 20.


  21. 21.

  22. 22.

  23. 23.

  24. 24.$security/RICHTER.

  25. 25.

    See, e.g.

  26. 26.

  27. 27.

  28. 28.

  29. 29.

  30. 30.

  31. 31.

  32. 32.

    Istrokapital was acquired and renamed:

  33. 33.

    The latest tables: Tables 19 and 20.


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Sass, M. (2023). Surviving and Competing Successfully? Internationalisation of State-Owned Companies in Central and Eastern Europe. In: Ricz, J., Gerőcs, T. (eds) The Political Economy of Emerging Markets and Alternative Development Paths. International Political Economy Series. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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