Privatization, also spelled privatisation (in British English), may have several meanings. Primarily, it is the process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency, public service, or public property from the public sector (a government) to the private sector, either to a business that operates for a profit or to a nonprofit organization. It may also mean the government outsourcing of services or functions to private firms, e.g. revenue collection, law enforcement, and prison management. Privatization has also been used to describe two unrelated transactions. The first is the buying of all outstanding shares of a publicly traded company by a single entity, making the company privately owned. This is often described as private equity. The second is a demutualization of a mutual organization or cooperative to form a joint-stock company.
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