|Management of a business|
A corporate group or group of companies is a collection of parent and subsidiary corporations that function as a single economic entity through a common source of control. The concept of a group is frequently used in tax law, accounting and (less frequently) company law to attribute the rights and duties of one member of the group to another or the whole. If the corporations are engaged in entirely different businesses, the group is called a conglomerate. The forming of corporate groups usually involves consolidation via mergers and acquisitions, although the group concept focuses on the instances in which the merged and acquired corporate entities remain in existence rather than the instances in which they are dissolved by the parent. The group may be owned by a holding company which may have no actual operations.
In Germany, where a sophisticated law of the "concern" has been developed, the law of corporate groups is a fundamental aspect of its corporate law. Many other European jurisdictions also have a similar approach, while Commonwealth countries and the United States adhere to a formalistic doctrine that refuses to "pierce the corporate veil": corporations are treated outside tax and accounting as wholly separate legal entities.
A corporate group is composed of companies. The general rule is that a company is a separate legal entity from its shareholders, that is the shareholder's liability for the subsidiary's debts is limited to the value of the shares,and the shareholders cannot be required to perform the company's obligations.
However, some jurisdictions create exceptions to this rule. For example, Germany has created affiliated enterprise law which provides situations in which one company is liable for the debts of another company. In New Zealand, the Companies Act provides that the assets of related companies may be pooled to pay the creditors if one of the companies is liquidated. However, the circumstances in which this power will be exercised are very narrow.
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Leffdefines business group as a group of companies that does business in different markets under common administrative or financial control whose members are linked by relations of interpersonal trust on the basis of similar personal ethnic or commercial background. One method of defining a group is as a cluster of legally distinct firms with a managerial relationship. The relationship between the firms in a group may be formal or informal. A keiretsu is one type of business group. A concern is another.
Encarnationrefers to Indian business houses, emphasizing multiple forms of ties among group members. Powell and Smith-Doerr state that a business group is a network of firms that regularly collaborate over a long time period. Granovetter argues that business groups refers to an intermediate level of binding, excluding on the one hand a set of firms bound merely by short-term alliances and on the other a set of firms legally consolidated into a single unit. Williamson claims that business groups lie between markets and hierarchies; this is further worked out by Douma & Schreuder. Khanna and Rivkin suggest that business groups are typically not legal constructs though some regulatory bodies have attempted to codify a definition. In the United Arab Emirates, a business group can also be known as a trade association. Typical examples are Adidas Group or Icelandair Group.
A board of directors is a group of people who jointly supervise the activities of an organization, which can be either a for-profit or a nonprofit organization such as a business, nonprofit organization, or a government agency.
A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the state to act as a single entity and recognized as such in law for certain purposes. Early incorporated entities were established by charter. Most jurisdictions now allow the creation of new corporations through registration. Corporations come in many different types but are usually divided by the law of the jurisdiction where they are chartered based on two aspects: by whether they can issue stock, or by whether they are formed to make a profit. Depending on the number of owners, a corporation can be classified as aggregate or sole.
A keiretsu is a set of companies with interlocking business relationships and shareholdings. In the legal sense, it is a type of informal business group that are loosely organized alliances within the social world of Japan's business community. The keiretsu maintained dominance over the Japanese economy for the second half of the 20th century, and, to a lesser extent, continues to do so in the early 21st century.
A holding company is a company that owns the outstanding stock of other companies. A holding company usually does not produce goods or services itself. Its purpose is to own shares of other companies to form a corporate group. However, in many jurisdictions around the world, holding companies are usually called parent companies, which, besides holding stock in other companies, can conduct trade and other business activities themselves. Holding companies reduce risk for the shareholders, and can permit the ownership and control of a number of different companies.
Corporate governance is the collection of mechanisms, processes and relations used by various parties to control and to operate a corporation. Governance structures and principles identify the distribution of rights and responsibilities among different participants in the corporation and include the rules and procedures for making decisions in corporate affairs. Corporate governance is necessary because of the possibility of conflicts of interests between stakeholders, primarily between shareholders and upper management or among shareholders.
A joint-stock company is a business entity in which shares of the company's stock can be bought and sold by shareholders. Each shareholder owns company stock in proportion, evidenced by their shares. Shareholders are able to transfer their shares to others without any effects to the continued existence of the company.
A subsidiary, subsidiary company or daughter company is a company owned or controlled by another company, which is called the parent company, parent, or holding company. The subsidiary can be a company, corporation, or limited liability company. In some cases, it is a government or state-owned enterprise.
Corporate law is the body of law governing the rights, relations, and conduct of persons, companies, organizations and businesses. The term refers to the legal practice of law relating to corporations, or to the theory of corporations. Corporate law often describes the law relating to matters which derive directly from the life-cycle of a corporation. It thus encompasses the formation, funding, governance, and death of a corporation.
Limited liability is a legal status where a person's financial liability is limited to a fixed sum, most commonly the value of a person's investment in a corporation, company or partnership. If a company that provides limited liability to its investors is sued, then the claimants are generally entitled to collect only against the assets of the company, not the assets of its shareholders or other investors. A shareholder in a corporation or limited liability company is not personally liable for any of the debts of the company, other than for the amount already invested in the company and for any unpaid amount on the shares in the company, if any, except under special and rare circumstances permitting "piercing the corporate veil." The same is true for the members of a limited liability partnership and the limited partners in a limited partnership. By contrast, sole proprietors and partners in general partnerships are each liable for all the debts of the business.
Piercing the corporate veil or lifting the corporate veil is a legal decision to treat the rights or duties of a corporation as the rights or liabilities of its shareholders. Usually a corporation is treated as a separate legal person, which is solely responsible for the debts it incurs and the sole beneficiary of the credit it is owed. Common law countries usually uphold this principle of separate personhood, but in exceptional situations may "pierce" or "lift" the corporate veil.
The engine of Japanese economic growth has been private initiative and enterprise, together with strong support and guidance from the government and from labor. The most numerous enterprises were single proprietorships, of which there were more than 4 million in the late 1980s. The dominant form of organization; however, is the Corporation. In 1988 some 2 million corporations employed more than 30 million workers, or nearly half of the total labor force of 60.1 million people. Corporations range from large to small, but the favored type of organization is the joint-stock company, with directors, auditors, and yearly stockholders' meetings.
Salomon v A Salomon & Co Ltd UKHL 1,  AC 22 is a landmark UK company law case. The effect of the House of Lords' unanimous ruling was to uphold firmly the doctrine of corporate personality, as set out in the Companies Act 1862, so that creditors of an insolvent company could not sue the company's shareholders for payment of outstanding debts.
Kosmopoulos v Constitution Insurance Co of Canada is a leading Supreme Court of Canada decision on the court's ability to pierce the corporate veil—to impose an interest or liability, that is, upon the shareholders of a company instead of the company itself. It was held that the veil can only be lifted where it would be "just and equitable", specifically to third parties.
Walkovszky v. Carlton, 223 N.E.2d 6, is a United States corporate law decision on the conditions under which Courts may pierce the corporate veil. A cab company had shielded itself from liability by incorporating each cab as its own corporation. The New York Court of Appeals refused to pierce the veil on account of undercapitalization alone.
An operating subsidiary is a subsidiary of a corporation through which the parent company indirectly conducts some portion of its business. Usually, an operating subsidiary can be distinguished in that even if its board of directors and officers overlap with those of other entities in the same corporate group, it has at least some officers and employees who conduct business operations primarily on behalf of the subsidiary alone. The term carries slightly different meanings depending upon the specific context and industry.
Berkey v. Third Avenue Railway Co 244 N.Y. 602 (1927) is a classic veil piercing case by Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo in United States corporate law.
Adams v Cape Industries plc  Ch 433 is a UK company law case on separate legal personality and limited liability of shareholders. The case also addressed long-standing issues under the English conflict of laws as to when a company would be resident in a foreign jurisdiction such that the English courts would recognise the foreign court's jurisdiction over the company. It has in effect been superseded by Lungowe v Vedanta Resources plc, which held that a parent company could be liable for the actions of a subsidiary on ordinary principles of tort law.
The United Kingdom company law regulates corporations formed under the Companies Act 2006. Also governed by the Insolvency Act 1986, the UK Corporate Governance Code, European Union Directives and court cases, the company is the primary legal vehicle to organise and run business. Tracing their modern history to the late Industrial Revolution, public companies now employ more people and generate more of wealth in the United Kingdom economy than any other form of organisation. The United Kingdom was the first country to draft modern corporation statutes, where through a simple registration procedure any investors could incorporate, limit liability to their commercial creditors in the event of business insolvency, and where management was delegated to a centralised board of directors. An influential model within Europe, the Commonwealth and as an international standard setter, UK law has always given people broad freedom to design the internal company rules, so long as the mandatory minimum rights of investors under its legislation are complied with.
The corporate veil in the United Kingdom is a metaphorical reference used in UK company law for the concept that the rights and duties of a corporation are, as a general principle, the responsibility of that company alone. Just as a natural person cannot be held legally accountable for the conduct or obligations of another person, unless they have expressly or implicitly assumed responsibility, guaranteed or indemnified the other person, as a general principle shareholders, directors and employees cannot be bound by the rights and duties of a corporation. This concept has traditionally been likened to a "veil" of separation between the legal entity of a corporation and the real people who invest their money and labour into a company's operations.
In the United States, a benefit corporation is a type of for-profit corporate entity, authorized by 35 U.S. states and the District of Columbia that includes positive impact on society, workers, the community and the environment in addition to profit as its legally defined goals, in that the definition of "best interest of the corporation" is specified to include those impacts. Traditional C corporation law does not specify the definition of "best interest of the corporation" which has led to profit motivations being used as the main driver for best interests. Benefit corporations may not differ much from traditional C corporations. A C corporation may change to a B corporation merely by stating in its approved corporate bylaws that it is a benefit corporation; however in certain jurisdictions, the terms "public benefit corporation" or "PBC" are also required to be in the legal name of B corporations.