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Wholly Owned Subsidiary


A wholly-owned subsidiary is a company whose entire stock is held by another company, known as the parent company. This means the parent company has complete control over the subsidiary’s operations and decision-making. The parent company can make decisions without the consent of any other shareholders as there are none in this case.


‘Wholly Owned Subsidiary’ phonetically is pronounced as: ‘hoh-lee ohnd suhb-si-dee-uh-ree’.

Key Takeaways

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  1. A wholly owned subsidiary is a business entity whose all of its stocks are held by another company, referred to as the parent company. This gives the parent company full control and authority over the subsidiary’s operations and decision-making processes.
  2. Having a wholly owned subsidiary can provide a parent company with the ability to expand into new geographic markets or broaden its product offering. Since the parent company controls all the shares, it could also more freely allocate resources and create synergies with the subsidiary.
  3. However, the parent company assumes all the risks associated with the subsidiary’s operations, including financial and legal liabilities. As a result, effective risk management and careful due diligence are crucial when establishing and operating wholly owned subsidiaries.

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A wholly-owned subsidiary is significant in the world of business and finance for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it allows the parent company to have complete control over the subsidiary’s operations, allowing for a consistent business approach and strategy across the whole organization. This level of control can lead to increased efficiency and effectiveness in managing the business. Secondly, it provides an opportunity for the diversification of risk, as the subsidiary’s financial and operational risks are contained within it and isolated from the parent company. It also enables the expansion of a company into new geographic or product markets, while still retaining complete decision-making authority. Finally, a wholly-owned subsidiary can also be used for tax benefits in some jurisdictions, resulting in financial advantages for the parent company.


A wholly owned subsidiary is primarily employed by parent companies as an extended arm to fulfill specialized objectives, such as penetrating new geographic regions, diversifying the portfolio, or managing risks more efficiently. They tend to offer the parent company a higher level of control and authority over decisions. For instance, a firm may establish a wholly owned subsidiary in a foreign country to obtain access to its local market. As the parent company owns 100% of the subsidiary, they can achieve consistent branding and product-service quality across different markets, which can’t always be guaranteed through a joint venture or franchise model.Moreover, a wholly owned subsidiary serves as a bullet-proof risk management tool. In legal and financial terms, a parent company and its wholly owned subsidiary are separate entities. Therefore, in case of bankruptcy or any legal issues with the subsidiary, the parent company will not be directly affected as the liabilities, debts, or negative publicity do not affect the parent company’s financial health and image. This buffer allows the parent company to experiment with new products, strategies, or technologies via the subsidiary, holding the potential for high rewards while limiting the impact of possible failures.


1. The Walt Disney Company and Pixar: In 2006, The Walt Disney Company acquired Pixar, a computer animation studio known for creating movies like Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and many others. After being acquired by Disney, Pixar is now a wholly owned subsidiary, operating under the parent company’s umbrella while still creating and producing its own films.2. Google and YouTube: In 2006, for about $1.65 billion in stock, Google purchased YouTube, the video-sharing platform. Doing so helped Google to significantly expand its reach in the media and video sector. Now, YouTube functions as a wholly owned subsidiary of Google.3. Facebook and Instagram: In 2012, Facebook purchased Instagram, a photo-sharing app, for approximately $1 billion. It was one of Facebook’s major acquisitions at the time, and since the buyout, Instagram has grown enormously in popularity and user base, all while being a wholly owned subsidiary of Facebook.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a wholly owned subsidiary?

A wholly owned subsidiary is a company whose entire stock is owned by another company, known as the parent company.

How does a company become a wholly owned subsidiary?

When a parent company purchases all or nearly all of another company’s shares of stock, that company becomes a wholly owned subsidiary.

What are the advantages of a company becoming a wholly owned subsidiary?

The parent company has full control over the subsidiary’s operations and strategies, which leads to streamlined decision-making. It also provides opportunities for tax optimization, and the parent company can exploit the resources of the subsidiary company.

Are there any disadvantages of a wholly owned subsidiary?

The parent company takes on all of the subsidiary’s liabilities and risks. It may also lead to conflicts in the subsidiary’s management if their views differ from those of the parent company.

Can a wholly owned subsidiary make its own business decisions?

Mostly, the decision-making power lies with the parent company. However, the level of autonomy given to the subsidiary can vary depending on the parent company’s management style.

Does a wholly owned subsidiary have to follow the same business model as the parent company?

Not necessarily. While they may have the same overall goals, a wholly owned subsidiary may have a different business model or strategy tailored to its specific market conditions or industry.

How does a wholly owned subsidiary impact the parent company’s financial statements?

As the parent company owns all stocks, the subsidiary’s financial activities are fully integrated into the parent company’s financial statements.

Can a wholly owned subsidiary be in a different industry than its parent company?

Yes, the subsidiary can very well be in a different industry. The purpose of creating a subsidiary could be diversification or to enter a new market.

Can a parent company have more than one wholly owned subsidiary?

Yes, a parent company can have multiple wholly owned subsidiaries, and those subsidiaries can even function in different markets or sectors.

Can a wholly owned subsidiary have its own wholly owned subsidiary?

Yes, a wholly owned subsidiary can have its own wholly owned subsidiary. This creates a multi-layered corporate structure.

Related Finance Terms

  • Parent Company: This refers to the corporation or other entity that has full ownership and control over a wholly owned subsidiary.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A): This relates to the process in which companies are bought, sold, or merged. A wholly owned subsidiary normally results from such acquisition activities.
  • Corporate Structure: This refers to the organizational structure of a corporation. A wholly owned subsidiary forms part of this structure.
  • Consolidated Financial Statements: These are financial statements that include all assets, liabilities, income, expenses, and equity of the parent company and its wholly owned subsidiary.
  • Single Economic Entity: A term often utilized in corporate law that relates to a parent company and its wholly owned subsidiary as they operate as a single economic entity, despite being separate legal entities.

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