Privately held company

A privately held company, private company, or close corporation is a business company owned either by non-governmental organizations or by a relatively small number of shareholders or company members which does not offer or trade its company stock (shares) to the general public on the stock market exchanges, but rather the company's stock is offered, owned and traded or exchanged privately or over-the-counter. More ambiguous terms for a privately held company are closely held corporation, unquoted company, and unlisted company.

Though less visible than their publicly traded counterparts, private companies have major importance in the world's economy. In 2008, the 441 largest private companies in the United States accounted for US$1,800,000,000,000 ($1.8 trillion) in revenues and employed 6.2 million people, according to Forbes. In 2005, using a substantially smaller pool size (22.7%) for comparison, the 339 companies on Forbes' survey of closely held U.S. businesses sold a trillion dollars' worth of goods and services (44%) and employed 4 million people. In 2004, the Forbes' count of privately held U.S. businesses with at least $1 billion in revenue was 305.[1]

State ownership vs. private ownership vs. cooperative ownership

Private ownership of productive assets differs from state ownership or collective ownership (as in worker-owned companies). This usage is often found in former communist countries to differentiate from former state-owned enterprises, but it may be used anywhere when contrasting to a state-owned or a collectively owned company.

In the United States, the term privately held company is more often used to describe for-profit enterprises whose shares are not traded on the stock market.

Ownership of stock

In countries with public trading markets, a privately held business is generally taken to mean one whose ownership shares or interests are not publicly traded. Often, privately held companies are owned by the company founders or their families and heirs or by a small group of investors. Sometimes employees also hold shares of private companies.[2] Most small businesses are privately held.

Subsidiaries and joint ventures of publicly traded companies (for example, General Motors' Saturn Corporation), unless shares in the subsidiary itself are traded directly, have characteristics of both privately held companies and publicly traded companies. Such companies are usually subject to the same reporting requirements as privately held companies, but their assets, liabilities, and activities are also included in the reports of their parent companies, as required by the accountancy and securities industry rules relating to groups of companies.

Form of organization

Private companies may be called corporations, limited companies, limited liability companies, unlimited companies, or other names, depending on where and how they are organized and structured. In the United States, but not generally in the United Kingdom, the term is also extended to partnerships, sole proprietorships or business trusts. Each of these categories may have additional requirements and restrictions that may impact reporting requirements, income tax liabilities, governmental obligations, employee relations, marketing opportunities, and other business obligations and decisions.

In many countries, there are forms of organization which are restricted to and are commonly used by private companies, for example, the private company limited by shares in the United Kingdom (abbreviated Ltd) or unlimited company and the proprietary limited company (abbreviated Pty Ltd) or unlimited proprietary company (abbreviated Pty) in Australia.

Reporting obligations and restrictions

Privately held companies generally have fewer or less comprehensive reporting requirements and obligations for transparency, via annual reports, etc. than publicly traded companies do. For example, in the United States, unlike in Europe, privately held companies are not generally required to publish their financial statements. By not being required to disclose details about their operations and financial outlook, private companies are not forced to disclose information that may potentially be valuable to competitors and can avoid the immediate erosion of customer and stakeholder confidence in the event of financial duress. Further, with limited reporting requirements and shareholder expectations, private firms are afforded a greater operational flexibility by being able to focus on long-term growth rather than quarterly earnings. In addition, private company executives may steer their ships without shareholder approval, allowing them to take significant action without delays.[3][4] In Australia, Part 2E of the Corporations Act 2001 requires that publicly traded companies file certain documents relating to their annual general meeting with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. There is a similar requirement for large proprietary companies, which are required to lodge Form 388H to the ASIC containing their financial report. In the United States, private companies are held to different accounting auditing standards than are public companies, overseen by the Private Company Counsel division of FASB.(see external links)

Researching private companies and private companies' financials can involve contacting the Secretary of State for the state of incorporation (or for LLC or partnership, state of formation), or using specialized private company databases such as Dun & Bradstreet or PrivCo.(see external links) Other companies, like Sageworks, provide aggregated data on privately held companies, segmented by industry code.[5]

Privately held companies also sometimes have restrictions on how many shareholders they may have. For example, the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, section 12(g), limits a privately held company, generally, to fewer than 2000 shareholders, and the U.S. Investment Company Act of 1940, requires registration of investment companies that have more than 100 holders. In Australia, section 113 of the Corporations Act 2001 limits a privately held company to fifty non-employee shareholders.

Privately owned enterprise

A privately owned enterprise is a commercial enterprise that is owned by private investors, shareholders or owners (usually collectively, but they can be owned by a single individual), and is in contrast to state institutions, such as publicly owned enterprises and government agencies. Private enterprises comprise the private sector of an economy. An economic system that 1) contains a large private sector where privately run businesses are the backbone of the economy, and 2) business surplus is controlled by the owners, is referred to as capitalism. This contrasts with socialism, where industry is owned by the state or by all of the community in common. The act of taking assets into the private sector is referred to as privatization. The goal of private enterprise differs from other institutions, the major difference being private businesses exist solely to generate profit for the owners or shareholders.[6]

A privately owned enterprise is one form that private property may take.

Types of privately owned business

  • Sole proprietorship: A sole proprietorship is a business owned by one person. The owner may operate on his or her own or may employ others. The owner of the business has total and unlimited personal liability of the debts incurred by the business. This form is usually relegated to small businesses.
  • Partnership: A partnership is a form of business in which two or more people operate for the common goal of making profit. Each partner has total and unlimited personal liability of the debts incurred by the partnership. There are three typical different types of classifications for partnerships: general partnerships, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships.
  • Corporation: A business corporation is a for-profit, limited liability or unlimited liability entity that has a separate legal personality from its members. A corporation is owned by one or more shareholders and is overseen by a board of directors, which hires the business's managerial staff. Corporate models have also been applied to the state sector in the form of government-owned corporations. A corporation may be privately held ("close", or closely held—that is, held by a few people) or publicly traded.

See also


  1. ^ Reifman, Shlomo; Murphy, Andrea D., eds. (6 Nov 2008). "America's Largest Private Companies". Forbes.
  2. ^ Loewen, Jacoline (2008). Money Magnet: Attract Investors to Your Business. Canada: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780470155752.
  3. ^ "Introduction to Private Companies". Private Company Knowledge Bank. PrivCo.
  4. ^ "Private Company Research". Business Reference Services. Library of Congress. 10 Jan 2013.
  5. ^ Staff (1 Feb 2012). "Sageworks Private Company Data". Fox Business Network.
  6. ^ Boaz, David. "Ownership Society". Cato Institute. Archived from the original on 16 Jun 2010. Retrieved 16 Nov 2010.

External links

Advance Publications

Advance Publications, Inc. is an American media company owned by the descendants of S.I. Newhouse Sr., Donald Newhouse and S.I. Newhouse Jr. It is named after the Staten Island Advance, the first newspaper owned by the Newhouse family, in which Sam Newhouse bought a controlling interest in 1922. The company is nominally headquartered in the Advance offices in Staten Island's Grasmere neighborhood, though Advance has never had an official headquarters.As of October 2014, it was ranked as the 44th largest privately held company in the United States, according to Forbes. Crain's ranked Advance Publications the 4th largest private company in the New York area in 2012.

In addition to holding publishing and communication assets, Advance serves as the holding company for the family's 31% stake in cable entertainment company Discovery Inc. Advance also owns a 13% stake in Charter Communications, which it received when Bright House Networks merged with Charter. In August 2018, Advance/Newhouse ("A/N") notified Charter Communications that it intends to establish a credit facility collateralized by a portion of Advance/Newhouse Common Units in Charter Communications Holdings, LLC. That same month, Condé Nast CEO announced his five-year strategy to generate $600 million in new revenue from new revenue streams while driving costs out of the business.Directly and through various subsidiaries, the group owns Discovery channel, Condé Nast, the popular digital news website Wired, Lycos, Angelfire, Tripod and is the majority shareholder in Reddit.

Aman Futures Group

Aman Futures Group (simply referred as Aman Futures) was an investment and privately held company based in Malaysia with branches in the Philippines. It has also been allegedly engaged in a pyramid scheme. The group was founded by Manuel K. Amalilio, a Filipino of Malaysian descent.

Capri Sun

Capri Sun (UK: , US: ) is a brand of juice concentrate drink owned by Capri Sun Group Holding in Switzerland, which is a privately held company of Hans-Peter Wild. It was introduced in 1969 and named after the Italian island of Capri. Capri Sun has been distributed in the United States since 1981. Kraft Foods is a licensed production partner for North America. In the Netherlands, France, the UK, Belgium and Ireland, it is distributed by Coca-Cola Partners. As of 2015, five flavors are certified kosher by OK Kosher Certification.

Cherrybrook Kitchen

Cherrybrook Kitchen is a privately held company producing baking products for the food allergy market. The company was founded in 2004 by Patsy Rosenberg and is headquartered in Burlington, Massachusetts. The company was acquired by Cell-nique in 2011.Cherrybrook Kitchen was founded in response to the growing number of children and adults diagnosed with food allergies. 11 million adults and children are affected by peanut, dairy, egg and nut allergens, while approximately one in 133 Americans suffers from Celiac Disease.

Cherrybrook Kitchen offers two lines of gourmet baking mixes: Original and Gluten Free. The Original Line includes all-natural gourmet baking mixes that are free of peanuts, dairy, eggs and nuts; the gluten free line, introduced in 2005 as Gluten Free Dreams, is made with rice flour and is free of gluten and wheat in addition to peanuts, dairy, eggs and nuts. .In 2009, the firm announced a new partnership with Arthur, the award-winning book series and PBS program.The firm received a 2008 Kids Food Award from Kiwi Magazine and was recently named one of Parents Magazine's "Best Snacks for Kids with Food Allergies."

Civilian-run enterprise

Civilian-run enterprise is a type of company or enterprise to describe a non-state-owned enterprise (state-owned enterprise including companies owned by the state, the central and regional government) in the People's Republic of China. A privately held company is a type of civilian-run enterprise. However, there is no proper legal definition of "civilian-run enterprise" in China. It is considered to be a special term in the Economy of China (Minqi (Chinese: 民企; pinyin: Mínqǐ) or Chinese: 民营企业; pinyin: Mínyíng qǐyè). The translation of the term "Minqi" was difficult, as stated by Ye Dong, a Chinese businessman during an interview by the Chinese language version of the Financial Times.A civilian-run enterprise may be a publicly traded company or a privately held company (any company that is not owned by a government nor listed on the stock exchange). If the company is listed in Hong Kong (and incorporated outside mainland China), it would be referred to as a P chip.

Crunk Energy Drink

Crunk Energy Drink, sometimes stylized as CRUNK!!! Energy, is an energy supplement owned by Solvi Acquisition LLC, a privately held company headquartered in Twinsburg, OH.

Express, Inc.

Express, Inc. is an American fashion retailer that caters mainly to young men and women. The company is headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. Express operates 631 stores in the United States, and Puerto Rico, and formerly in Canada. Its revenue was US$ 2.192 billion in fiscal year 2016.

Groove Networks

Groove Networks was a software company based in Beverly, Massachusetts. Founded by Ray Ozzie, the creator of IBM's Lotus Notes application, the privately held company specialized in productivity software that allows multiple users to work collaboratively on computer files simultaneously.

On March 10, 2005, Microsoft announced that they had purchased Groove Networks for $120 million. Microsoft has first used the collaboration software as Microsoft SharePoint Workspace, which is discontinued. The technology is now used in Onedrive within Office365

As of February 2013, the servers hosting Groove 2.5n, a DropBox-like application, were still operational.


InstallFree Inc. is a privately held company, backed by Ignition Partners and Trilogy Equity Partners, with headquarters in Stamford, CT and offices located worldwide. InstallFree specializes in Application Virtualization and delivery, based on their proprietary application virtualization technology that works on a variety of Microsoft Windows platforms such as Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Terminal Server and Citrix XenApp.

Intel Ct

Intel Ct is a programming model developed by Intel to ease the exploitation of its future multicore chips, as demonstrated by the Tera-Scale research program.

It is based on the exploitation of SIMD to produce automatically parallelized programs.

On August 19, 2009, Intel acquired RapidMind, a privately held company founded and headquartered in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. RapidMind and Ct combined into a successor named Intel Array Building Blocks (ArBB) released in September 2010. is a website founded in 1998, the world's largest commercial provider of online memorials. The Web site hosts obituaries and memorials for more than 70 percent of all U.S. deaths. hosts obituaries for more than three-quarters of the 100 largest newspapers in the U.S., by circulation. The site attracts more than 30 million unique visitors per month and is among the top 40 trafficked websites in the attaches a publicly accessible guestbook to most of the obituaries it hosts, which enables anyone with an Internet connection to pay tribute to someone whose obituary appears in one of's affiliate newspapers or is self-published on The company now reviews more than 1,000,000 guestbook entries each month. About 75 percent of all guestbooks receive entries. As of 2016, the company was approaching 100 million guestbook entries on its is a privately held company based in Evanston, Illinois, with more than 1500 newspaper affiliates in North America, Europe and Australia, including The New York Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Manchester Evening News. The executive team is currently led by CEO Stopher Bartol.


Medical Information Technology, Incorporated (stylized as MEDITECH), is a Massachusetts-based software and service company selling information systems for health care organizations. The privately held company was founded around 1969 by A. Neil Pappalardo, as well as four other partners.


Menard Inc. is a chain of home improvement stores, located in the Midwestern United States.

The privately held company, headquartered in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has 350 stores in 14 states: Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Kentucky. It is the third largest home improvement chain in the United States, behind The Home Depot and Lowe's.


numberFire is a privately held company that offers statistical analysis of data around sporting events and sports fans, targeting fantasy sports players, digital media, writers, teams, and leagues. The site boasts over 700,000 subscribers and partnerships with ESPN, NFL, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, and SB Nation.


OnTrac is a logistics company that contracts regional shipping services in the Western United States. The company was founded in California in 1991 and expanded to seven additional states: Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Colorado and Idaho. Initial customers were document shippers that sought an alternative to overnight delivery in California versus national carriers. Their current service area serves over 65 million consumers, or 20% of the United States population. OnTrac is a privately held company.


Proprietary is an adjective related to property or ownership. It may also refer to:

Proprietary chapel, a chapel that originally belonged to a person, but open to the public

Proprietary church, a church built on private ground by a feudal lord

Proprietary education or For-profit higher education in the United States, educational institutions operated by private businesses

Proprietary colony, an early North American colony granted by the English Crown to one or more proprietors

Proprietary community, a community property owned by a single person or entity

Proprietary company, a form of privately held company in Australia and South Africa

Proprietary DVR, methodologies used to maintain commercial control over the DVR format

Proprietary eponym or Generic trademark, a trademark or brand name that has become a generic name

Proprietary estoppel, a legal mechanism to acquire rights over property, especially land

Proprietary governor, the governor of a proprietary colony

Proprietary House, a mansion in New Jersey built for the proprietary governor in 1764

Proprietary lock-in or Vendor lock-in, creating customer dependency on a vendor for products and services

Proprietary trading, the practice of trading financial instruments with a firm's own money


ScanSafe was a privately held company backed by investors Benchmark Capital and Scale Venture Partners, until its 2009 acquisition by Cisco Systems. The company provided Web-based "Software as a service" (SaaS) to organizations.


Tubefilter, Inc. is a privately held company based in Los Angeles, California that operates media businesses focusing on the online entertainment industry. Tubefilter is best known for Tubefilter News, a blog targeted at the fans, creators, producers, "influencers" and distributors of web television content.Tubefilter News has been cited by Variety, and its staff have been quoted by the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, The Wrap, and BusinessWeek, when covering the web television industry. It is ranked in the top 1,600 blogs worldwide according to Technorati.The company also operates the Streamy Awards, a weekly web television guide, and monthly web series meetups. In October 2009, Tubefilter acquired online entertainment and reviews site


Velcro BVBA is a privately held company that produces fasteners and other products. It is known for being the original patentor of the hook-and-loop fastener, to which it has (over its objections) lent the generic name "velcro".

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