Government-owned corporation

A government corporation or government-owned corporation is a legal entity created by a government to exercise some of the powers of the government. It may resemble a not-for-profit corporation as it has no need or goal of satisfying the shareholders with return on their investment through price increase or dividends. Its sole goal is to provide some kind of good or service for the public.

Today, one goal of a government-owned corporation is usually to attempt to avoid the perceived worst excesses of centralised governmental planning and control (compare nationalisation, command economy) by placing such an entity at "arm's length" and adopting/adapting some of the perceived efficiencies/democratisation of corporate structure and governance such as separate Boards of Directors with independent (external) members.

In the United States, businesses that are government owned include Amtrak and the United States Postal Service. Many states have government owned businesses for operations as well. Generally speaking, a statute passed by a legislature specifically sets up a government owned company in order to undertake a specific public purpose with public funds or public property.

In monarchical Commonwealth countries country-wide government corporations often use the style "Crown corporation". Notable exceptions include both the State-Owned Enterprises and the Crown entities in New Zealand. Examples of Crown corporations include the CBC in Canada and Air Canada before it underwent privatisation. Cabinet ministers (Ministers of the Crown) often control the shares in such public corporations.

At the level of local government, territorial or other authorities may set up government corporations such as "Local Authority Trading Enterprises" (LATEs).

In Japan, Japan Post is partially owned by the government, but is about to get sold to the public during the following years (following 2004). JR, NTT and Japan Tobacco was formally owned by the government.

In most OPEC countries, the governments prefer to own the oil companies operating on their soil. A notable example is the Saudi national oil company, Saudi Aramco, which the Saudi government bought in 1988 and changed its name from Arabian American Oil Company to Saudi Arabian Oil Company.

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