Holding company

Page written by AI. Reviewed internally on January 30, 2024.


A holding company is a type of business entity that exists primarily to own and control other companies, either through the ownership of their stocks or equity interests.

What is a holding company?

A holding company does not engage in day-to-day operations, production, or the delivery of services. Instead, their activities primarily involve strategic planning, decision-making, and oversight of their subsidiaries.

Holding companies are often used as a strategy for diversification and risk management. By owning a portfolio of subsidiaries across different industries or sectors, a holding company spreads its risk.

Subsidiary companies typically retain their legal and financial independence even though they are owned by a holding company. This separation helps protect the holding company from the liabilities and risks of its subsidiaries.

Holding companies can sometimes achieve tax advantages through various legal and financial structures. They may benefit from tax incentives, reduced tax liabilities on intercompany transactions, or lower capital gains taxes.

The holding company’s board of directors and executive team are responsible for making strategic decisions that affect the entire corporate group. This includes decisions about mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and capital allocation.

Example of a holding company

Imagine ABC Holdings Inc., a holding company, which owns several subsidiary companies operating in different industries:

  1. Subsidiary A – Technology solutions: a technology solutions company specialising in software development and IT services.
  2. Subsidiary B – Renewable energy: a company focused on renewable energy projects, such as solar and wind farms.
  3. Subsidiary C – Real estate development: is engaged in real estate development, building and managing commercial and residential properties.

How it works:

  • Ownership structure: ABC Holdings owns a significant portion or all of the shares of each subsidiary, giving it controlling interest in these companies.
  • Strategic control: ABC Holdings provides strategic direction and oversight to its subsidiaries but allows them to operate somewhat independently.
  • Risk diversification: The performance of one subsidiary may offset the risks associated with another, providing a level of stability to the overall portfolio.
  • Potential tax benefits: Depending on the jurisdiction, there may be tax advantages to structuring businesses as part of a holding company.
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