Revenue-Based Auctions and Unbundling Infrastructure Franchises

Dec 1997
This paper discusses privatization among investments in infrastructure. The goal of this paper is to present a new auction mechanism that solves many of the problems that have hindered the use of franchises. The first section of the paper discusses least present value of revenue (LPVR) auctions, where the regulator fixes user fees (according to some optimizing criterion) and asks for bids on the present value of revenue from user fees that franchise holders will accept in exchange for building, operating and maintaining the infrastructure. Section 2 of the paper classifies infrastructure projects according to their technological characteristics in order to establish conditions under which franchising is feasible and desirable. In Section 3, the authors discuss several conceptual issues that arise in franchising. Section 4 discusses the shortcomings of fixed-term mechanisms. Section 5 introduces and analyzes LPVR auctions. Section 6 discusses the unbundling of franchises. The authors' conclusions are presented in the final section.