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What Is a Subsidiary?

In the corporate world, a subsidiary is a company that belongs to another company, which is typically alluded to as the parent company or the holding company.

The parent holds a controlling interest in the subsidiary company, meaning it has or controls the greater part of its stock. In situations where a subsidiary is 100% owned by another firm, the subsidiary is alluded to as a wholly owned subsidiary. Auxiliaries become vital while examining a reverse triangle mortgage.

How a Subsidiary Works

A parent company purchases or lays out a subsidiary to give the parent specific [synergies](/collaboration, for example, increased tax benefits, diversified risk, or assets as earnings, equipment, or property. In any case, auxiliaries are separate and distinct legal substances from their parent companies, which reflects in the independence of their liabilities, taxation, and governance. On the off chance that a parent company possesses a subsidiary in a foreign land, the subsidiary must follow the laws of the country where it is incorporated and operates.

Be that as it may, given their controlling interest parent companies frequently have extensive influence with their auxiliaries. They โ€” along with other subsidiary shareholders, if any โ€” vote to choose a subsidiary company's directorate, and there may frequently be a board-part overlap between a subsidiary and its parent company.

The purchase of an interest in a subsidiary varies from a merger: The purchase for the most part costs the parent corporation a smaller investment, and shareholder endorsement isn't required to transform a company into a subsidiary as it would be in the event of a merger. Nor is a vote required to sell the subsidiary.

To be designated a subsidiary, something like half of a firm's equity must be controlled by another entity. Assuming the stake is not exactly that, the firm is considered a associate or affiliate company. With regards to financial reporting, an associate is dealt with uniquely in contrast to a subsidiary.

Subsidiary Financials

A subsidiary ordinarily prepares independent financial statements. Regularly, these are shipped off the parent, which will aggregate them โ€” as it does financials from every one of its operations โ€” and convey them on its consolidated financial statements. Interestingly, an associate company's financials are not combined with the parents. All things considered, the parent enrolls the value of its stake in the associate as an asset on its balance sheet.

As is common practice and per the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), public companies ought to generally consolidate all larger part owned firms or auxiliaries. Consolidation is normally viewed as a more significant method of accounting than giving separate financials to a parent company and every one of its auxiliaries.

For instance, eBay reported total revenue on its consolidated income statement, for the year ended Dec. 31, 2017, totaling US$9.6 billion. The online business firm notes in the annual report that the individual domestic and consolidated subsidiary, StubHub, produced revenue of $307 million.

The SEC states that main in rare cases, for example, when a subsidiary is going through bankruptcy, should a greater part owned subsidiary not be consolidated. A unconsolidated subsidiary is a subsidiary with financials that are excluded from its parent company's statements. Ownership of such firms is commonly treated as an equity investment and indicated as an asset on the parent company's balance sheet. For regulatory reasons, unconsolidated subsidiary firms are ordinarily those where parent firms don't have a huge stake.

Benefits and Drawbacks to Subsidiaries

There are benefits and drawbacks to the subsidiary structure.

Auxiliaries can contain and limit issues for a parent company. Expected losses to the parent company can be limited by involving the subsidiary as a sort of liability shield against financial losses or lawsuits. Amusement companies frequently set individual motion pictures, or TV appears as separate auxiliaries consequently.

The subsidiary structure can likewise offer tax benefits: They may simply be subject to taxes in their state or country, versus paying for every one of the parent's profits.

Auxiliaries can be the experimental ground for various organizational structures, manufacturing methods, and types of products. Design industry companies frequently have different brands or names, each set up as a subsidiary.


  • Contained/limited losses

  • Tax advantages

  • Easier to establish and sell

  • Synergy with other corporate divisions, subsidiaries


  • Extra legal, accounting work

  • Greater bureaucracy

  • Complex financial statements

  • Liability for subsidiary's actions, debts

In any case, auxiliaries likewise have a couple of disadvantages. Conglomerating and solidifying a subsidiary's financials make a parent's accounting more muddled and complex.

Since auxiliaries must stay independent somewhat, transactions with the parent might need to be "at a safe distance," and the parent might not have all the control it wishes. Yet the parent may likewise be responsible for atrocities or corporate malfeasance by the subsidiary. It might need to guarantee the subsidiary's loans, allowing it to remain uncovered to financial losses.

Real World Example of Subsidiaries

Public companies are required by the SEC to uncover critical auxiliaries under Item 601 of Regulation S-K. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., for instance, has a long and different rundown of subsidiary companies, including Dairy Queen, Clayton Homes, Business Wire, GEICO, and Helzberg Diamonds.

Berkshire Hathaway's acquisition of numerous different firms follows with Buffett's frequently examined strategy of buying undervalued assets and holding onto them. In return, acquired auxiliaries can frequently keep on working independently while accessing more extensive financial resources. A display to Berkshire's annual filing for the year ended Dec. 31, 2018, uncovers that the firm claims up of 270 auxiliaries.

Like Berkshire Hathaway, Alphabet Inc. has numerous auxiliaries. These separate business substances all perform unique operations that enhance Alphabet through diversification, revenue, earnings, and research and development (R&D).

For instance, Sidewalk Labs, a small startup that is a subsidiary of Alphabet, looks to modernize public transit in the United States. The company has developed a public transportation management system that aggregates a huge number of data points from cell phones, cars and Wi-Fi areas of interest to dissect and foresee where traffic and workers are generally congregated. The system can divert public transportation resources, like transports, to these blocked areas to keep the public transit system moving productively.

For Alphabet, Sidewalk Labs furnishes it with a business unit that creates technology that might one day at any point help the whole company. Since one of Alphabet's biggest products is Google Maps, auxiliaries, for example, Sidewalk Labs can reinforce the company's overall business operations.