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Company Research

This guide lists database and internet resources for company research.

Company Type

Holding Company - A holding company is a parent corporation, limited liability company, or limited partnership that owns enough voting stock in another company, that it can control that company's policies and oversee its management decisions. Although a holding company owns the assets of other companies, it merely maintains oversight capacities and therefore does not actively participate in running a business's day-to-day operations. Holding companies may also own property, such as real estate, patents, trademarks, stocks, and other assets.

Parent Company - A parent company is a company that has a controlling interest in another company, giving it control of its operations. Parent companies can be either hands-on or hands-off owners of its subsidiaries, depending on the amount of managerial control given to subsidiary managers.

Private Company – A private company is one that is owned by an individual, family, or group of partners. The amount of information that private companies must report is limited, and much of that is confidential. Thus, it is often difficult to find much information on a private company. The databases Business Source Complete, Nexis Uni, and ReferenceUSA contain private company information, but there is often a limited amount of information available and sales figures are often estimates.

Public Company – A public company is a company that issues securities or shares of stock for the public. Those who purchase these securities or shares become investors in and owners of the company. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulates this process. Public companies must file numerous financial and other reports with the SEC. Because these reports are public information, much data and information can be found when researching public companies. For more information, visit the SEC website at

Subsidiary – A subsidiary is a company owned in whole or in part by another company. Subsidiaries usually do not report financial and operational details but details may information may be contained within parent company reports.