A security that represents a unit of ownership in a company

Shares, which are issued by stock corporations, consist of a certificate and a dividend coupon sheet with renewal coupons.

The bearer or owner of a share, called a shareholder, owns part of the company's capital stock, indicated either as a percentage of the total share capital or as a par value that is printed on the share certificate. The rights vested in the shares are regulated by the German Stock Corporation Act and the company's charter. Basic shareholder rights include:

  • the right to attend the annual general meeting
  • the right to receive a share of the company's profits
  • the right to subscribe to new shares
  • the right to demand information
  • the right to a share of winding-up revenues.

Shares are classified according to various criteria, such as the way in which the capital stock is divided up, the fungibility of the shares, or the type of rights attached to the shares:

  • par value shares vs. no-par value shares
  • bearer shares vs. registered shares (or registered shares with restricted transferability)
  • ordinary shares vs. preferred shares.
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