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A public company , publicly traded company , publicly held company , publicly listed company , or public corporation is a corporation whose ownership is dispersed among the general public in many shares of stock which are freely traded on a stock exchange or in over the counter markets.
In some jurisdictions, public companies over a certain size must be listed on an exchange. A public company can be listed listed company or unlisted unlisted public company. In the early modern period, the Dutch developed several financial instruments and helped lay the foundations of modern financial system. In other words, the VOC was officially the first publicly traded company,  because it was the first company to be ever actually listed on an official stock exchange. While the Italian city-states produced the first transferable government bonds, they did not develop the other ingredient necessary to produce a fully fledged capital market: As Edward Stringham notes, "companies with transferable shares date back to classical Rome, but these were usually not enduring endeavors and no considerable secondary market existed Neal, , p.
Usually, the securities of a publicly traded company are owned by many investors while the shares of a privately held company are owned by relatively few shareholders. A company with many shareholders is not necessarily a publicly traded company. In the United States, in some instances, companies with over shareholders may be required to report under the Securities Exchange Act of ; companies that report under the Act are generally deemed public companies.
Publicly traded companies are able to raise funds and capital through the sale in the primary or secondary market of shares of stock.
This is the reason publicly traded corporations are important; prior to their existence, it was very difficult to obtain large amounts of capital for private enterprises. The profit on stock is gained in form of dividend or capital gain to the holders. The financial media and analysts will be able to access additional information about the business.
The owners are able to share risks by selling shares to the public. It increases the asset liquidity and the company does not need to depend on funding from the bank. It improves the transparency of company information by releasing an annual account report and transaction record. The company may be better known to the public, or increase its popularity. If some shares are given to the managers, the conflicts between managers and shareholders, the principal-agent problem , will be remitted.
Many stock exchanges require that publicly traded companies have their accounts regularly audited by outside auditors, and then publish the accounts to their shareholders.
Besides the cost, this may make useful information available to competitors. Various other annual and quarterly reports are also required by law. The requirement for audited books is not imposed by the exchange known as OTC Pink.
The principal-agent problem, or the agency problem is a key weakness of public companies. The separation of a company's ownership and control is especially prevalent in such countries as U. In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission requires that firms whose stock is traded publicly report their major shareholders each year. For many years, newly created companies were privately held but held initial public offering to become publicly traded company or to be acquired by another company if they became larger and more profitable or had promising prospects.
More infrequently, some companies — such as investment banking firm Goldman Sachs and logistics services provider United Parcel Service UPS — chose to remain privately held for a long period of time after maturity into a profitable company. Davis , "public corporations have become less concentrated, less integrated, less interconnected at the top, shorter lived, less remunerative for average investors, and less prevalent since the turn of the 21st century". A group of private investors or another company that is privately held can buy out the shareholders of a public company, taking the company private.
This is typically done through a leveraged buyout and occurs when the buyers believe the securities have been undervalued by investors.
In some cases, public companies that are in severe financial distress may also approach a private company or companies to take over ownership and management of the company. One way of doing this would be to make a rights issue designed to enable the new investor to acquire a supermajority.
With a super-majority, the company could then be relisted, i. Alternatively, a publicly traded company may be purchased by one or more other publicly traded companies, with the target company becoming either a subsidiary or joint venture of the purchaser s , or ceasing to exist as a separate entity, its former shareholders receiving compensation in the form of either cash, shares in the purchasing company or a combination of both. When the compensation is primarily shares then the deal is often considered a merger.
Subsidiaries and joint ventures can also be created de novo — this often happens in the financial sector. Subsidiaries and joint ventures of publicly traded companies are not generally considered to be privately held companies even though they themselves are not publicly traded and are generally subject to the same reporting requirements as publicly traded companies. Finally, shares in subsidiaries and joint ventures can be re -offered to the public at any time — firms that are sold in this manner are called spin-outs.
Most industrialized jurisdictions have enacted laws and regulations that detail the steps that prospective owners public or private must undertake if they wish to take over a publicly traded corporation. This often entails the would-be buyer s making a formal offer for each share of the company to shareholders. Normally some form of supermajority is required for this sort of the offer to be approved, but once it happens then usually all shareholders are compelled to sell at the agreed-upon price and the company either becomes a subsidiary, ceases to exist, or becomes privately held.
The shares of a publicly traded company are often traded on a stock exchange. The value or "size" of a company is called its market capitalization , a term which is often shortened to "market cap". This is calculated as the number of shares outstanding as opposed to authorized but not necessarily issued times the price per share.
However, a company's market capitalization should not be confused with the fair market value of the company as a whole since the price per share are influenced by other factors such as the volume of shares traded. Low trading volume can cause artificially low prices for securities, due to investors being apprehensive of investing in a company they perceive as possibly lacking liquidity. For example, if all shareholders were to simultaneously try to sell their shares in the open market, this would immediately create downward pressure on the price for which the share is traded unless there were an equal number of buyers willing to purchase the security at the price the sellers demand.
So, sellers would have to either reduce their price or choose not to sell. Thus, the number of trades in a given period of time, commonly referred to as the "volume" is important when determining how well a company's market capitalization reflects true fair market value of the company as a whole.
The higher the volume, the more the fair market value of the company is likely to be reflected by its market capitalization. Another example of the impact of volume on the accuracy of market capitalization is when a company has little or no trading activity and the market price is simply the price at which the most recent trade took place, which could be days or weeks ago.
This occurs when there are no buyers willing to purchase the securities at the price being offered by the sellers and there are no sellers willing to sell at the price the buyers are willing to pay. While this is rare when the company is traded on a major stock exchange, it is not uncommon when shares are traded over-the-counter OTC.
Since individual buyers and sellers need to incorporate news about the company into their purchasing decisions, a security with an imbalance of buyers or sellers may not feel the full effect of recent news.
An overview of corporate governance in European countries. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with publicly owned company. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. May Learn how and when to remove this template message. Accounting by the First Public Company: The Pursuit of Supremacy.
The Little Crash in '62 , in Business Adventures: Economics , Financial Markets: The World's First Stock Exchange: Translated from the Dutch by Lynne Richards. Columbia University Press, , pp. Futures , Volume 68, April , p. Retrieved 18 August The World's Oldest Share. Retrieved 8 August Guinness World Records Limited Archived from the original on 8 August A Financial Revolution in the Habsburg Netherlands: Renten and Renteniers in the County of Holland, — As Richard Sylla notes, "In modern history, several nations had what some of us call financial revolutions The first was the Dutch Republic four centuries ago.
The Blue Line Imperative: What Managing for Value Really Means. Its shares, however, and the manner in which those shares were traded, did not truly allow public ownership by anyone who happened to be able to afford a share.
The arrival of VOC shares was therefore momentous, because as Fernand Braudel pointed out, it opened up the ownership of companies and the ideas they generated, beyond the ranks of the aristocracy and the very rich, so that everyone could finally participate in the speculative freedom of transactions.
Creating Order in Economic and Social Life. An Introduction To Pink Sheets". Retrieved February 15, The Federal Reserve is owned and controlled by foreigners". Retrieved November 23, Minnesota Public Radio News. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. Economic history of the Netherlands. Retrieved from " https: Publicly traded companies Types of business entity Dutch inventions.