Definition of ‘Subsidiary’
A company whose voting stock is more than 50% controlled by another company, usually referred to as the parent company or holding company. A subsidiary is a company that is partly or completely owned by another company that holds a controlling interest in the subsidiary company. If a parent company owns a foreign subsidiary, the company under which the subsidiary is incorporated must follow the laws of the country where the subsidiary operates, and the parent company still carries the foreign subsidiary’s financials on its books (consolidated financial statements). For the purposes of liability, taxation and regulation, subsidiaries are distinct legal entities.
The purchase of a controlling interest differs from a merger and the parent corporation can acquire the controlling interest with a smaller investment. Additionally, stockholder approval is not required in the formation of a subsidiary as it would be in the event of a merger. Famous investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. has a long and diverse list of subsidiaries, including Clayton Homes, the Pampered Chef, GEICO Auto Insurance and Helzberg Diamonds.