DEFINITION of 'Public'

A reference to anything that can be possessed or freely researched by any person or group of people in the general population. The term public is most commonly used to describe a company's shares or any other type of financial instrument that trades in the secondary markets. In other words, any securities that trade on an exchange and can be bought or sold by anyone in the general population are referred to as publicly traded securities.


There are thousands of companies that have shares and financial products that are available to be bought or sold by the public. These companies must file reports that meet the strict requirements of the Securities And Exchange Commission. As a result of the requirements and regulations, public companies tend to be more transparent and subject to much more public scrutiny than private companies.

  1. Stock Market

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  3. Private Company

    A company whose ownership is private. As a result, it does not ...
  4. Public Company

    A company that has issued securities through an initial public ...
  5. Initial Public Offering - IPO

    The first sale of stock by a private company to the public. IPOs ...
  6. Securities And Exchange Commission ...

    A government commission created by Congress to regulate the securities ...
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  1. What's the difference between publicly- and privately-held companies?

    Privately-held companies are - no surprise here - privately held. This means that, in most cases, the company is owned by ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What does 'going public' mean?

    Going public refers to a private company's initial public offering (IPO), thus becoming a publicly traded and owned entity. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How does privatization affect a company's shareholders?

    The most recognized transition between the private and public markets is an initial public offering (IPO). Through an IPO, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Why would a corporation issue convertible bonds?

    A convertible bond represents a hybrid security that has bond and equity features; this type of bond allows the conversion ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between shares outstanding and floating stock?

    Shares outstanding and floating stock are different measures of the shares of a particular stock. Shares outstanding is the ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between market risk premium and equity risk premium?

    The only meaningful difference between market-risk premium and equity-risk premium is scope. Both terms refer to the same ... Read Full Answer >>

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