Société Anonyme

Definition of 'Société Anonyme '


A French term for a public limited company, abbreviated S.A. A société anonyme is the equivalent of a corporation in the United States, a public limited company (plc) in the United Kingdom or an Aktiengesellschaft (AG) in Germany. This type of business structure establishes a company as a legal person that can own and transfer property, enter contracts and be held liable for crimes. One of its key benefits is that is limits the owner’s personal liability for the company’s actions.

Investopedia explains 'Société Anonyme '


The société anonyme is a popular business structure with equivalents in many other languages and countries. For example, in Spanish, it is called a sociedad anónima, in Italian, it is referred to as a società anonima and in Portuguese it is called a sociedade anônima. In all cases, a company designated S.A. protects its owners’ personal assets against claims by creditors, which makes many individuals more willing to start companies since it limits their risk. The S.A. structure also makes it easier to meet a growing business’s capital needs since numerous investors can contribute large or small amounts of money as shareholders if the company opts for public ownership. The S.A. is thus a key component of a robust capitalist economy.

An S.A. is subject to different tax regulations than a sole proprietorship or partnership, and, in the case of a public S.A., different accounting and auditing requirements. In addition, all S.A.s must meet certain basic legal requirements. To be valid, a société anonyme must have articles of incorporation, a board of directors and a unique name. Other regulatory requirements vary by country. In Belgium, for example, an S.A. must be funded with at least €61,500 (as of 2014) and have at least two partners. In Costa Rica, nonresidents can start an S.A. without a Costa Rican partner. There are typically fees, which vary by location, for completing the various legal steps for forming an S.A.

Well-known companies that are established as S.A.s include Nestle, Anheuser-Busch InBev and L’Oreal.


Filed Under:

comments powered by Disqus
Hot Definitions
  1. 80-10-10 Mortgage

    A mortgage transaction in which a first and second mortgage are simultaneously originated. The first position lien has an 80% loan-to-value ratio, the second position lien has a 10% loan-to-value ratio and the borrower makes a 10% down payment. 80-10-10 mortgage transactions are piggy-back mortgage transactions, and are frequently used by borrowers to avoid paying private mortgage insurance.
  2. Passive ETF

    One of two types of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) available for investors. Passive ETFs are index funds that track a specific benchmark, such as a SPDR. Unlike actively managed ETFs, passive ETFs are not managed by a fund manager on a daily basis.
  3. Walras' Law

    An economics law that suggests that the existence of excess supply in one market must be matched by excess demand in another market so that it balances out. So when examining a specific market, if all other markets are in equilibrium, Walras' Law asserts that the examined market is also in equilibrium.
  4. Market Segmentation

    A marketing term referring to the aggregating of prospective buyers into groups (segments) that have common needs and will respond similarly to a marketing action. Market segmentation enables companies to target different categories of consumers who perceive the full value of certain products and services differently from one another.
  5. Effective Annual Interest Rate

    An investment's annual rate of interest when compounding occurs more often than once a year. Calculated as the following:
  6. Debit Spread

    Two options with different market prices that an investor trades on the same underlying security. The higher priced option is purchased and the lower premium option is sold - both at the same time. The higher the debit spread, the greater the initial cash outflow the investor will incur on the transaction.
Trading Center