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What is a parent company?

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June 03, 2007 1:39PM

A corporation is owned by its shareholders. A number of people (shareholders) can invest their money into a corporation and own shares in that company. In a parent company, a company such as the one above starts up another corporation (subsidiary corporation), and the original (parent) company itself owns the shares of the subsidiary. The individual shareholders of the parent own the subsidiary, but indirectly. They are not, themselves, shareholders in the subsidiay -- the parent owns the shares. One of the reasons for this is to "limit" the liability of shareholders. If the parent owns several subsidiares, and one of them gets into financial difficulty, it can be closed down (or sold) without upsetting the operations of the other subsidiaries. Selling one operation as a subsidiary is also easier because it is financially "self-contained." Similarly, if a person or a group of people owns several corporations, they can form a "holding" company, and transfer their shares of each companyinto it, rather than holding them personally. The individuals then become shareholders in the holding (parent) company, and the parent company owns the shares in each of the original companies, which then are subsidiaries of the parent. Indiviuals own shares in parent.> Parent owns shares in each subsidiary.