S.A. (corporation)

Share of the Banque de Montreux, issued 20 November 1900. Société anonyme were common in Switzerland at this time.

The abbreviation S.A. or SA, for the French Société Anonyme[a] designates a type of limited company in certain countries, most of which have a Romance language as their official language and operates a derivative of the 1804, Napoleonic, civil law.[1] Originally, shareholders could be literally anonymous and collect dividends by surrendering coupons attached to their share certificates. Dividends were paid to whomever held the certificate. Since share certificates could be transferred privately, corporate management would not necessarily know who owned its shares – nor did anyone but the holders.

As with bearer bonds, anonymous unregistered share ownership and dividend collection enabled money laundering, tax evasion, and concealed business transactions in general, so governments passed laws to audit the practice. Nowadays, shareholders of S.A.s are not anonymous, though shares can still be held by a holding company to obscure the beneficiary.

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  1. ^ "Société Anonyme (S.A.): Definition, Examples, Requirements". Investopedia. Retrieved 2024-02-28.

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