A framework for sell-offs
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A framework for sell-offs

Privatization is still keeping lawyers busy the world over - and benefiting from the vital contribution they have to make. By Christopher Stoakes

Privatization is still keeping teams of lawyers from the largest US and UK law firms busy worldwide. Part of their battle when winning mandates is to make governments understand the fundamental role that lawyers play in ensuring the success of a transaction. "It's no accident that the UK government almost invariably appointed the lawyers right at the start before any major privatization," says Tim Clarke, the partner who heads the international privatization practice at Linklaters & Alliance. His firm has been involved in virtually all the UK's major privatizations, commonly acting for the government.

Given the UK's pioneering role in establishing the different privatization models, this has given Linklaters a head start - it has advised on more than 300 privatizations in 40-plus jurisdictions. But as Clarke is quick to point out: "Every privatization is different. Every country has to find its own way - compatible with its culture, history, traditions and legal system - to privatize. Lessons from one country may help in another and other people's models may provide ideas. But simply following foreign examples will, most likely as not, end in failure," he warns. However, privatizations have at least one common feature: the need to attract buyers or investors.

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