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A privately held company or private company is a company which does not offer or trade its company stock (shares) to the general public on the stock market exchanges, but rather the company's stock is offered, owned and traded or exchanged privately or over-the-counter. In the case of a close corporation, there are a relatively small number of shareholders or company members. Related terms are closely held corporation, unquoted company, and unlisted company.
Though less visible than their publicly traded counterparts, private companies have major importance in the world's economy. In 2008, the 441 largest private companies in the United States accounted for US$ 1,800,000,000,000 ($1.8 trillion) in revenues and employed 6.2 million people, according to Forbes. In 2005, using a substantially smaller pool size (22.7%) for comparison, the 339 companies on Forbes ' survey of closely held U.S. businesses sold a trillion dollars' worth of goods and services (44%) and employed four million people. In 2004, the Forbes count of privately held U.S. businesses with at least $1 billion in revenue was 305.
Separately, all non-government-owned companies are considered private enterprise. This sense includes both publicly-traded and privately-held companies, as their investors are individuals in the private sector.
Private ownership of productive assets differs from state ownership or collective ownership (as in worker-owned companies). This usage is often found in former Eastern bloc countries to differentiate from former state-owned enterprises,[ citation needed ] but it may be used anywhere when contrasting to a state-owned or a collectively owned company.
In the United States, the term privately held company is more often used to describe for-profit enterprises whose shares are not traded on the stock market.
In countries with public trading markets, a privately held business is generally taken to mean one whose ownership shares or interests are not publicly traded. Often, privately held companies are owned by the company founders or their families and heirs or by a small group of investors. Sometimes employees also hold shares of private companies. [ page needed ] Most small businesses are privately held.
Subsidiaries and joint ventures of publicly traded companies (for example, General Motors' Saturn Corporation), unless shares in the subsidiary itself are traded directly, have characteristics of both privately held companies and publicly traded companies. Such companies are usually subject to the same reporting requirements as privately held companies, but their assets, liabilities, and activities are also included in the reports of their parent companies, as required by the accountancy and securities industry rules relating to groups of companies.
Private companies may be called corporations, limited companies, limited liability companies, unlimited companies, or other names, depending on where and how they are organized and structured. In the United States, but not generally in the United Kingdom, the term is also extended to partnerships, sole proprietorships or business trusts. Each of these categories may have additional requirements and restrictions that may impact reporting requirements, income tax liabilities, governmental obligations, employee relations, marketing opportunities, and other business obligations and decisions.
In many countries, there are forms of organization which are restricted to and are commonly used by private companies, for example, the private company limited by shares in the United Kingdom (abbreviated Ltd) or unlimited company and the proprietary limited company (abbreviated Pty Ltd) or unlimited proprietary company (abbreviated Pty) in South Africa and Australia.
In India, private companies are registered by the Registrar of Companies, under the Ministry of Finance and Corporate Affairs. Indian private companies must contain the word Private Limited at the end of their names.
Privately held companies generally have fewer or less comprehensive reporting requirements and obligations for transparency, via annual reports, etc. than publicly traded companies do. For example, in the United States, unlike in Europe[ where? ], privately held companies are not generally required to publish their financial statements. By not being required to disclose details about their operations and financial outlook, private companies are not forced to disclose information that may potentially be valuable to competitors and can avoid the immediate erosion of customer and stakeholder confidence in the event of financial duress. Further, with limited reporting requirements and shareholder expectations, private firms are afforded a greater operational flexibility by being able to focus on long-term growth rather than quarterly earnings. In addition, private company executives may steer their ships without shareholder approval, allowing them to take significant action without delays. In Australia, Part 2E of the Corporations Act 2001 requires that publicly traded companies file certain documents relating to their annual general meeting with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. There is a similar requirement for large proprietary companies, which are required to lodge Form 388H to the ASIC containing their financial report. In the United States, private companies are held to different accounting auditing standards than are public companies, overseen by the Private Company Counsel division of FASB.(see external links)
Researching private companies and private companies' financials in the United States can involve contacting the Secretary of State for the state of incorporation (or for LLC or partnership, state of formation), or using specialized private company databases such as Dun & Bradstreet. Other companies, like Sageworks, provide aggregated data on privately held companies, segmented by industry code.
Privately held companies also sometimes have restrictions on how many shareholders they may have. For example, the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, section 12(g), limits a privately held company, generally, to fewer than 2000 shareholders, and the U.S. Investment Company Act of 1940, requires registration of investment companies that have more than 100 holders. In Australia, section 113 of the Corporations Act 2001 limits a privately held company to fifty non-employee shareholders.
A privately owned enterprise is a commercial enterprise owned by private investors, shareholders or owners (usually collectively, but they can be owned by a single individual), and is in contrast to state institutions, such as publicly owned enterprises and government agencies. Private enterprises comprise the private sector of an economy. An economic system that 1) contains a large private sector where privately run businesses are the backbone of the economy, and 2) business surplus is controlled by the owners, is referred to as capitalism. This contrasts with socialism, where industry is owned by the state or by all of the community in common. The act of taking assets into the private sector is referred to as privatization.
A privately owned enterprise is one form that private property may take.
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.
Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products. It is also "any activity or enterprise entered into for profit."
A public company, publicly traded company, publicly held company, publicly listed company, or public limited company is a company whose ownership is organized via shares of stock which are intended to be freely traded on a stock exchange or in over-the-counter markets. A public company can be listed on a stock exchange, which facilitates the trade of shares, or not. In some jurisdictions, public companies over a certain size must be listed on an exchange. In most cases, public companies are private enterprises in the private sector, and "public" emphasizes their reporting and trading on the public markets.
A limited liability company (LLC) is the US-specific form of a private limited company. It is a business structure that can combine the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation. An LLC is not a corporation under state law; it is a legal form of a company that provides limited liability to its owners in many jurisdictions. LLCs are well known for the flexibility that they provide to business owners; depending on the situation, an LLC may elect to use corporate tax rules instead of being treated as a partnership, and, under certain circumstances, LLCs may be organized as not-for-profit. In certain U.S. states, businesses that provide professional services requiring a state professional license, such as legal or medical services, may not be allowed to form an LLC but may be required to form a similar entity called a professional limited liability company (PLLC).
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.
Incorporation is the formation of a new corporation. The corporation may be a business, a nonprofit organization, sports club, or a local government of a new city or town.
In a limited company, the liability of members or subscribers of the company is limited to what they have invested or guaranteed to the company. Limited companies may be limited by shares or by guarantee. In a company limited by shares, the liability of members is limited to the unpaid value of shares. In a company limited by guarantee, the liability of owners is limited to such amount as the owners may undertake to contribute to the assets of the company, in the event of being wound up. The former may be further divided in public companies and private companies. Who may become a member of a private limited company is restricted by law and by the company's rules. In contrast, anyone may buy shares in a public limited company.
A joint venture (JV) is a business entity created by two or more parties, generally characterized by shared ownership, shared returns and risks, and shared governance. Companies typically pursue joint ventures for one of four reasons: to access a new market, particularly emerging markets; to gain scale efficiencies by combining assets and operations; to share risk for major investments or projects; or to access skills and capabilities. Work by Reuer and Leiblein challenged the claim that joint ventures minimize downside risk.
A private limited company is any type of business entity in "private" ownership used in many jurisdictions, in contrast to a publicly listed company, with some differences from country to country. Examples include the LLC in the United States, private company limited by shares in the United Kingdom, GmbH in Germany and Austria, société à responsabilité limitée in France, and sociedad de responsabilidad limitada in the Spanish-speaking world. The benefit of having a private limited company is that there is limited liability. However, shares can only be sold to shareholders in the business, which means that it can be difficult to liquidate such a company.
Companies House is the United Kingdom's registrar of companies and is an executive agency and trading fund of Her Majesty's Government, falling under the remit of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. All forms of companies are incorporated and registered with Companies House and file specific details as required by legislation. All registered limited companies, including subsidiary, small and inactive companies, must file annual financial statements in addition to annual company returns, and all these are public records. Only some registered unlimited companies are exempt from this requirement.
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.
A limited partnership (LP) is a form of partnership similar to a general partnership except that while a general partnership must have at least two general partners (GPs), a limited partnership must have at least one GP and at least one limited partner. Limited partnerships are distinct from limited liability partnerships, in which all partners have limited liability.
A proprietary company,, is a form of privately held company in Australia and South Africa that is either limited or unlimited. However, unlike a public company there are, depending on jurisdiction, restrictions on what it can and cannot do.
A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity representing an association of people, whether natural, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objective. Company members share a common purpose and unite to achieve specific, declared goals. Companies take various forms, such as:
Australian corporations law has historically borrowed heavily from UK company law. Its legal structure now consists of a single, national statute, the Corporations Act 2001. The statute is administered by a single national regulatory authority, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).
Corporate law in Vietnam was originally based on the French commercial law system. However, since Vietnam's independence in 1945, it has largely been influenced by the ruling Communist Party. Currently, the main sources of corporate law are the Law on Enterprises, the Law on Securities and the Law on Investment.
South African company law is that body of rules which regulates corporations formed under the Companies Act. A company is a business organisation which earns income by the production or sale of goods or services. This entry also covers rules by which partnerships and trusts are governed in South Africa, together with cooperatives and sole proprietorships.
Indian company law regulates corporations formed under Section 2(20) of the Indian Companies Act of 2013, superseding the Companies Act of 1956.