Spain was at the forefront of a worldwide wave of privatisation in the 1990s. The process was driven by a mixture of pragmatism, belief in its economic benefits and a desire to be at the heart of Europe. It was lubricated by buoyant stock markets. In the process of transferring state assets to the private sector, successive Spanish governments were careful to protect Spanish interests and to create a handful of major companies in which Spanish interests retained control. Nevertheless, privatisation provided an avenue for further foreign penetration of the economy. Transfer of ownership was also accompanied by the formation of market structures that threatened competition and therefore the potential benefits of privatisation. As a result the government was forced to develop new regulatory mechanisms. In addition to shifts in power and control in the economy, transfer of ownership led to the restructuring of labour, product and capital markets. In summary, privatisation redefined the political economy.