A muse that I wrote yesterday asked a series of questions about company ownership. It stimulated quite a bit of interest, albeit for reasons other than I expected. Having discussed the matter with several commentators, I now know why. It turns out that one of the underlying assumptions upon which the muse was based—that companies have owners—was wrong.
How often have you heard someone say they 'own a portion of <company name>' or that they are 'company owners'? These statements, while plausible, are actually incorrect. People (individuals, groups, other companies) own shares in a company, they don't own the company (or a portion of the company) directly. The company is an entity itself. It issues shares ('bundles of intangible rights') and these can be owned or traded, as is so ably explained here (see clause 2).
Thank you to those people that contacted me to point out my error. The phrase 'company owner' has been removed from my vocabulary! However, the notion of 'ownership' remains. I hope this brief note goes some way to putting the record straight. Please contact me if you would like to know more.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.