Definition of ‘Wholly Owned Subsidiary’
A company whose common stock is 100% owned by another company, called the parent company. A company can become a wholly owned subsidiary through acquisition by the parent company or spin off from the parent company. In contrast, a regular subsidiary is 51 to 99% owned by the parent company. One situation in which a parent company might find it helpful to establish a subsidiary company is if it wants to operate in a foreign market. This arrangement is common among high-tech companies who want to retain complete control and ownership of their technology.
Wholly owned subsidiaries allow the parent company to retain the greatest amount of control, but also leave the parent with all the costs and risks of full ownership. When a lesser number of costs and risks are desirable, or when it is not possible to obtain complete or majority control, the parent company might introduce an affiliate, associate or associate company in which it would own a minority stake.