There are several types of business company in Britain. A statutory company is set up by an Act of Parliament. Many former statutory companies that were managed by the government, such as those responsible for Britain’s railway system and coal industry, have now been privatized (= sold and made into privately run companies operating for profit), because these are thought to be more efficient.
  Most commercial businesses in Britain are registered companies. Lists of these are kept by the Registrar of Companies, and company information and accounts are kept at Companies House. Registered companies may be either private companies or public companies. Private companies have a limited number of shareholders (or members), and their shares are not available to the general public. Shares in public companies can be bought and sold by the public on the stock exchange.
  A limited company, sometimes called a limited liability company, can be either private or public. The liability (= responsibility) of shareholders for any losses is limited to the value of their shares. Private limited companies have the letters Ltd after their name. A public limited company (plc) must offer its shares for sale to the public. Most large companies in Britain, such as BT and Marks & Spencer, are public limited companies. A special type of limited company, the company limited by guarantee, is used especially for charities. Rather than buy shares, its members promise to pay for a share of debts should it fail.
  Most businesses in the US are corporations, which are similar to British limited companies. People who invest money in them are liable for (= risk losing) only the amount they have invested. Some corporations sell their shares on the stock exchange, but others do not. Small corporations, e.g. family businesses, may be called close corporations. Corporations often have the letters inc. (short for ‘incorporated’) after their name. The laws about how corporations are formed and should operate vary from state to state.
  In both Britain and the US, professional businesses like law firms are often partnerships, which consist of two or more people who own a business and are together responsible for its debts. In a limited partnership ‘general partners’ run the business and take responsibility for debts while ‘limited partners’ only invest money.
  A sole proprietorship is run by one person only. Many small businesses in the US operate in this way because the rules are much simpler than those for corporations. Sole proprietorships do not have limited liability. If the name of the business is not the same as the name of the person who runs it, the letters d.b.a. are used, short for doing business as, e.g. Ted Smith, d.b.a. Ted’s Book Store.

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