Holding Vehicles

Private Companies

The Limited Company has been the principal means of conducting business for the last two hundred years. Its enduring success is the result of its ability to ring-fence liability and thereby protect the assets of owners and managers by limiting their liability for the company's activities. This characteristic is referred to as “limited liability” and can also be used to, for example, separate assets between a high business risk activity and a lower risk area. This is the main distinction between an incorporated entity such as a company and a sole trader.

Public Company

A public company is conceptually identical to a private limited company but will generally have a higher minimum capitalisation requirement, no limitation on the number of members, the ability to be listed (or floated) on a stock market, increased reporting requirements, greater anonymity of ownership and may be desirable from a reputational point of view where the client feels that a Plc is more substantial than a private limited company (Ltd or Limited).


Foundations vary hugely from country to country and it is difficult to provide an overall summary since there are fewer common threads which draw them together than in the case of other legal vehicles such as companies and trusts. Accordingly more detail is provided in the country specific entry for each type of foundation. Foundations can generally be seen as somewhere between a trust and a company.


The term trust can loosely be applied to any situation where one person holds property but is not entitled to the benefit of that property.  This section deals with discretionary trusts and the more common arrangement of nominee shareholding (sometimes called bare trust or mandatory trust) is dealt with separately.


Nominee services are also known as mandatory services and sometimes as “bare trusts”. A nominee is a person who holds an asset in name only for the benefit of another person. Unlike a trustee a nominee has no discretion about the use of the asset and can only act in accordance with instructions from the beneficial owner.

Partnerships & LLCs

This article covers General Partnership, LLPs, LPs & LLCs. A partnership is a business structure whereby two or more members (persons or companies or a mixture of both) own and run a business with the aim of creating profit.

Company Limited by Guarantee (Hybrid Companies)

Companies limited by Guarantee, like normal companies, have their own legal identity but they have members who instead of holding an asset (such as shares) hold an obligation to provide funds to the company in the future if requested.

Insurance Based Tax Planning (Wrappers)

Insurance based tax planning (sometimes called insurance wrappers or wrapped investments) represents a substantial part of the financial services industry.