Most countries have government-owned businesses which may be part owned or fully owned by the government. A government-owned corporation, state-owned company, state enterprise, publicly-owned corporation, government business enterprise, or parastatal is a legal entity created by a government to undertake commercial activities on behalf of its owner, the government. Their legal status varies from being a part of government into stock companies with a state as a regular stockholder. There is no standard definition of a government-owned corporation (GOC) or state-owned enterprise (SOE), although the two terms can be used interchangeably. The defining characteristics are that they have a distinct legal form and they are established to operate in commercial affairs. While they may also have public policy objectives, GOCs should be differentiated from other forms of government agencies or state entities established to pursue purely non-financial objectives that have no need or goal of satisfying the shareholders with return on their investment through price increase or dividends
In most OPEC countries, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the governments own the oil companies operating on their soil. A notable example is the Saudi national oil company, Saudi Aramco, which the Saudi government bought in 1988 and changed its name from Arabian American Oil Company to Saudi Arabian Oil Company. The Saudi government also owns and operates Saudi Arabian Airlines, and owns 70 per cent of SABIC, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation, as well as many other companies. They are, however, being privatized gradually.
The government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) are a group of financial services corporations created by the United States Congress. The United States GSEs are private corporations owned by their stockholders, rather than government-owned corporations. Their primary function is to generate profits for their stockholders, but they are structured and regulated by the US government to enhance the availability and reduce the cost of credit to targeted borrowing sectors.