public ownership

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Public ownership

The portion of a company's stock that is held by the public.

Public Ownership

1. The ownership of a company represented by a stock that is traded on the open market, either on a stock exchange or on the over-the-counter market. Individual and institutional shareholders each have a portion of this public ownership, in proportion to the amount of stock they own as a percentage of all outstanding stock. Thus, shareholders have final say in all decisions made by the company and its managers, especially through its annual shareholders' meeting. Public ownership allows a company to have greater access to financing than other companies, as they have the ability to issue more stock. However, these companies are subject to greater regulation: for example, they must file 10-K reports with the SEC on their earnings, and they are more likely to be subject to corporate taxes.

2. Ownership of a company by the government. Command economies have a large number of companies under public ownership, but even free market economies have some degree of government involvement in this form. Many countries have public ownership of one or more companies that produce their main exports. For example, many oil-rich states have oil companies under partial or total public ownership.

public ownership