With privatization on a mammoth scale under way across continental Europe, investors will be asked to pony up more than $150 billion over the next few years. Up for grabs are numerous prime properties, ranging from auto makers and leading banks to giant oil and telecommunications companies. But will the auctioning process work as smoothly and profitably as it has in Britain? Probably not. In both France and Italy, privatization efforts are suddenly confronting a number of new hurdles.

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