This paper analyzes whether public ownership has an impact on providers’ price-setting. Under the assumption of more efficient energy provision which benefits customers a large number of former energy monopolists have been privatized in line with the liberalization of energy markets in Germany at the end of the 1990s. However, current re-municipalizations are justified by similar arguments in the public debate. Based on a dataset on the ownership structure of energy providers we find that public property or private property itself is not the decisive factor for lower retail and wholesale prices. Rather, a high ownership concentration leads to low prices, regardless of the type of owner. As public investors often seek total ownership of a provider, households, which are less willing to switch, benefit at least indirectly from public ownership. Tests for robustness of our results applying different owner and concentration measures confirm the results independently from the underlying estimation specification.


ownership structure; strategic price-setting