A corporate enterprise that has a legal identity separate from that of its members; it operates as one single unit, in the success of which all the members participate. An incorporated company is a legal person in its own right, able to own property and to sue and be sued in its own name. A company may have limited liability (a limited company), so that the liability of the members for the company's debts is limited. An unlimited company is one in which the liability of the members is not limited in any way. A registered company, i. e. one registered under the Companies Acts, is much the most common type of company. A company may be registered either as a public limited company or a private company. A public limited company must have a name ending with the initials 'plc' and have an authorized share capital of at least £50, 000, of which at least £12, 500 must be paid up. A private company is any registered company that is not a public company. The shares of a private company may not be offered to the public for sale. Unregistered companies include joint-stock company, in which the members pool their stock, chartered companies, formed under Royal Charter, and statutory companies, formed by special Act of Parliament (e. g. the privatized utilities). There are legal requirements placed on companies to make certain financial information regarding their activities public. Such information normally comprises a profit and loss account and balance sheet and is included with other financial and non-financial information in an annual report and accounts (see annual accounts). The term company is often used more widely to refer to any association of persons, such as a partnership, joined together for the purpose of conducting a business, although legally there are significant differences. See also artificial person; corporation

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