Russell signals mass privatisation
“Only one or two companies” owned by the government will never be privatised, Mark Russell, the new head of the Shareholder Executive, told the Financial Times on Monday. The government owns stakes in 21 businesses, including trading funds such as Ordnance Survey and the Land Registry.
The Shareholder Executive is currently working to privatise part of the government’s student loan book and Plasma Resources UK, a blood plasma supplier owned by the Department of Health. And the government has announced that it wishes to privatise the Royal Mail and its stake in Urenco, a uranium enrichment company.
But according to the FT, Russell said that the government is also looking at wholly- or partly-privatising Companies House, the Land Registry, the Met Office and Ordnance Survey over the next five to eight years. “Mr Russell makes clear that, unless there is a policy reason for government to own a business, it should look to divest its shareholding if it can realise value for money,” the newspaper reported.
The Land Registry’s chief executive, Malcolm Dawson, told CSW last year that privatisation has “sort of gone away but not really: it’s always in the background.” He has just been replaced (see Arrivals, Moves and Departures).