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Disinvestment is the action of an organization or government selling or liquidating an asset or subsidiary. Essentially, it’s the process of using funds in a lesser productive area and moving them into a more productive area. It is often done for either financial or social goals.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Disinvestment” would be: /dɪsɪnˈvɛstmənt/

Key Takeaways

  1. Disinvestment refers to the withdrawal or reduction of investment in a business, industry, or economy. This typically occurs when a company or government believes it can use the funds in a more profitable or efficient manner elsewhere.
  2. It can be used as a financial strategy to reduce risk or reallocate resources. It commonly happens when organizations undergo restructuring, sell off underperforming assets, or need to reduce costs and improve cash flow.
  3. While it may offer immediate financial benefits, disinvestment can also lead to certain downsides including job losses, reduced economic activity and potential loss of technical know-how or expertise in the divested sector.


Disinvestment is an important term in business and finance as it refers to the action of an organization or government selling or liquidating an asset or subsidiary. This strategy is primarily executed to either boost the value of the remaining shares, reduce losses, or free up resources for other investments. It’s a vital part of capital budgeting, essentially allowing a company to streamline its operations and focus on its core business. Additionally, in the public sector, governments often use disinvestment as a strategy to steer away from non-productive investments, thereby improving public finance management. Understanding disinvestment helps in better business decision-making, financial planning, and resource optimization.


Disinvestment is a strategic financial decision taken by a company or government aimed at reducing or liquidating assets or business units for various purposes. Some of those purposes include raising capital for new projects or to pay off debt, trimming down non-core assets to focus on the core business, improve operational efficiency, or to improve return on equity. Disinvestment might take different forms, including selling off subsidiary companies, closing non-profitable business units, or selling off pieces of real estate or other tangible assets. Disinvestment can also be used to achieve socio-economic objectives. For example, governments often use this tool to offload underperforming or loss-making public sector enterprises (PSEs) to privatize them. By doing so, these public entities can be transformed into efficient and financially viable entities under private management. Further, the funds raised by such divestments are often used by governments to reduce fiscal pressure or finance socially productive investments in sectors like infrastructure and education. Hence, while disinvestment might entail a reduction in assets, it doesn’t always connote a negative aspect but can be a tool towards financial optimisation and socio-economic goals.


1. Sale of South African Assets During Apartheid: During the 1980s, many international corporations and governments around the world chose to divest, or disinvest, from South Africa in protest of the regime’s policy of apartheid. These disinvestments were a significant blow to the South African economy and played a part in ending apartheid. 2. British Petroleum (BP) Exiting Alaska: In 2019, British Petroleum (BP) announced plans to sell all of its operations in Alaska, which included interests in a major oil field and a pipeline. This was seen as disinvestment as BP chose to withdraw its capital from this region due to strategic reasons- transitioning towards cleaner energy and reducing its carbon footprint. 3. Indian Government’s Disinvestment in Air India: The Indian government, in 2020, decided to disinvest its stake in the national carrier, Air India, due to the airline’s mounting losses. By disinvesting, the government aimed to minimize financial risks and enable the airline to operate more efficiently under private ownership. This move is a part of India’s broader disinvestment strategy to boost the country’s economy.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Disinvestment?
Disinvestment refers to the process of selling or liquidating an asset or subsidiary, usually carried out by a company or a government organization.
Why is Disinvestment done?
Organizations usually carry out disinvestment for multiple reasons like raising funds to cover losses, pay off debts, invest in new projects or businesses, or to improve the value of the remaining shares.
What are the types of Disinvestment?
There are mainly two types of disinvestment – Complete Disinvestment where 100% control is transferred from a public sector to a private sector; and Partial Disinvestment where the government retains the majority stake but still sells a portion of the shares to private enterprises.
Is Disinvestment good or bad?
The implications of disinvestment can be good or bad, depending on the situation. Disinvestment can result in improved efficiency and productivity, especially if the sold asset was underperforming or not core to the company’s business. However, it might also result in job losses or reduction in service quality.
What is the role of Disinvestment in the economy?
Disinvestment can play a strategic role in the economy. It can help improve the financial health of the government or a company, boost stock markets, and offer investment opportunities for private firms. It may also stimulate economic growth by encouraging competition and efficiency.
Can Disinvestment lead to Privatization?
Yes, when a government entity decides to sell its ownership or equity in a public sector company, oftentimes, it can lead to privatization, particularly if majority ownership is sold off.
What is the process of Disinvestment?
The disinvestment process generally involves evaluation of the asset or subsidiary, decision on the mode of disinvestment, seeking government or board approval, valuation of the assets, finding eligible buyers, and finally completing the sale through appropriate legal procedures.
How does Disinvestment affect the value of a company’s shares?
Disinvestment may cause short-term decrease in the value of the company’s shares. However, if the reasons behind the disinvestment are to improve the company’s performance or invest in more lucrative businesses, it might result in long-term increase in the share value.
What is the difference between Disinvestment and Divestment?
Disinvestment and divestment are very similar. Disinvestment generally refers to selling off assets for financial or performance improvement purposes. Divestment often refers to the selling off of assets for ethical, political, or environmental reasons. However, in many contexts, these two terms are used interchangeably.
: Can a small business carry out Disinvestment?
: Yes, disinvestment is not only for large companies or government organizations. Small businesses can also carry out disinvestment if they wish to sell off an asset or a part of their business.

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