I read this news on CNN's website. Here's a quote from the news:

But it's also a tricky balancing act. While Chinese President Xi Jinping has long favored state-owned firms over private ones like Alibaba and Ant, analysts point out that those state companies are not nearly as adept at driving productivity and innovation as their publicly owned counterparts.

I think what it's trying to say is private companies are better in terms of driving productivity and innovation than state companies. But here in the news, it says 'those state companies' are not as adept as 'their publicly owned counterparts'. I looked 'state-owned company' and 'publicly owned company' up. As far as I could tell, they both mean companies owned by the goverment.So I'm confused as to whether this sentence is correct.

Thanks in advance for any help.


2 Answers 2


A state-owned company is where the State (the Government) owns a majority of shares of the company. The Government appoints the Board of Directors. The "Board" are the people responsible for supervising the operation of the company. Example: Bank of China, BBC.

A publicly-owned company has its shares traded through a public stock exchange (i.e. Shanghai Stock Exchange, Nasdaq). A member of the public may purchase shares through the Exchange. The Board of Directors is appointed by public shareholders. Examples: Alibaba, Amazon.

Confusingly, a "state-owned" company is often said to be in the "Public Sector".


State-owned companies are owned by the state. They don't sell shares to the public.

Publicly owned companies are owned by people or institutions, generally via their investment in the companies' shares.

In many parts of the world, there are also companies (sometimes known as parastatals) in which the state has a large investment, often a majority investment, in order to control the companies' direction.

This is a combination of state-owned and publicly-owned - or private companies.

Parastatals are often found in strategic areas such as defence, energy and transport.

Such companies frequently depend on bail-outs from the state in order to stay afloat, notably with flag-carriers in the airline business.

Private companies are generally much more nimble and adept at reacting to changing conditions than those operated by the state.

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