Holding company

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A holding company is a company or firm that owns other companies' outstanding stock. It usually refers to a company which does not produce goods or services itself; rather, its only purpose is owning shares of other companies. Holding companies allow the reduction of risk for the owners and can allow the ownership and control of a number of different companies. In the U.S., 80% or more of stock, in voting and value, must be owned before tax consolidation benefits such as tax-free dividends can be claimed.[1]

Sometimes a company intended to be a pure holding company identifies itself as such by adding "Holdings" or "(Holdings)" to its name, as in Sears Holdings.



United States

In the United States, Berkshire Hathaway is the largest publicly-traded holding company; it owns numerous insurance companies, manufacturing businesses, retailers, and other companies. Two other large notable holding companies are United Continental Holdings and AMR Corporation, publicly traded holding companies whose primary purposes are to wholly own United Airlines and American Airlines, respectively. In some instances, holding companies have held capital for pending investments.


In U.S. broadcasting, many major media conglomerates have purchased smaller broadcasters outright, but have not changed the broadcast licenses to reflect this, resulting in stations that are (for example) still licensed to Jacor and Citicasters, effectively making them subsidiary companies of their owner Clear Channel Communications. This is sometimes also done on a per-market basis; for example in Atlanta both WNNX and later WWWQ are licensed to "WNNX LiCo, Inc." (LiCo meaning "license company"), both owned by Susquehanna Radio (which was later sold to Cumulus Media). In determining caps to prevent excessive concentration of media ownership, all of these are attributed to the parent company, as are leased stations, as a matter of broadcast regulation.

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