Bearer share company

Bearer share companies are companies where the individual shareholders are not known to the company. The bearer share companies do not know anything about their shareholders—not their names, addresses, or the size of their shareholdings. Instead, each shareholder’s ownership in the bearer share company will be evidenced by their physical possession of a share certificate (which will list only the number of shares they own). The bearer share certificate entitles the holder to exercise all legal rights associated with the share i.e. to receive dividends, vote at shareholder meetings, etc.

Bearer share companies were popular in tax havens as they provided confidentiality about ownership. Due to widespread tax evasion using bearer share companies, and the resulting negative publicity, most tax havens now require corporations to maintain records of ownership or transfers of shareholdings. As such, most tax havens now don’t permit bearer share certificates to be issued.