What Is a Sociedad Anónima? [Company Registration 101]

In this article, we’re answering “What Is a Sociedad Anónima?”

In particular, we’ll share how Sociedad Anónima differs from other corporate structures, where they exist, and answer a number of important questions.

This article is part of our free series on business banking, including how to find the best bank to open a business account in top jurisdictions around the world.

Feel free to use the table of contents to jump ahead to the sections most relevant to you.

Table of Contents

  1. What Is a Sociedad Anónima?
  2. Registering a Public Limited Company
  3. Frequently Asked Questions
  4. Ready to Explore Your Options?

What Is a Sociedad Anónima?

Sociedad Anónima refers to a corporate entity with limited shareholder liability, also known as an SA. In particular, the Sociedad Anónima exists in countries of Spanish influence, including Spain and across Latin America. However, SAs also exist in countries of French, Portuguese, and Italian influence.

That said, expanding beyond the name, Sociedad Anónima is in fact a corporate entity that has equivalent structures in almost all countries around the world. For example, in the United States, an SA is simply referred to as a corporation. In the United Kingdom, an SA is known as a Public Limited Company. Singapore refers to the equivalent structure as Private Limited.

In other words, a Sociedad Anónima is a corporation with shareholders that can be formed by one or more individuals (or corporate entities). As a result, the liability of each shareholder will be limited to their capital contribution. Likewise, each shareholder’s rights (and any potential profits) will be limited to the number of shares they hold in proportion to the number of outstanding and issued shares.

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Registering a Public Limited Company

Registering a Public Limited Company, whether as an SA, Corporation, Public Limited, Private Limited, or any other corporate entity that shares the same characteristics is done through a local legal professional in your country of choice. When registering a Public Limited Company, the number of shares issued to each shareholder typically depends on the capital contribution of each shareholder.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are three of the most common questions that we receive from people asking about Sociedad Anónimas. If you have further questions you would like answered, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly.

What Does SA Mean After a Stock Name?

SA after a stock name refers to the type of formation of a company. SA is commonly used in countries of French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian influence. The equivalent to an SA in the Western world is a corporation, like those formed in the United States.

Is a Sociedad Anonima a Corporation?

Yes, a Sociedad Anonima is a corporation, and the owners of an SA are therefore shareholders. As a result, the liability of each shareholder is limited to their contribution to the corporation, and their rights are reflected in the number of shares they hold. Depending on the country where the SA is being formed, a number of alternative company structures may also be available, including a SARL (or S de RL) or SAS.

What Is the Difference Between SA and SAS?

The main difference between an SA and a SAS is that a SAS offers the owner more flexibility in how the company can be structured and managed. In fact, SAS stands for Societé Par Actions Simplifieé which translates to “Society for Simplified Actions”. In many cases, foreign companies will use a SAS when setting up a foreign subsidiary. However, it’s important to note that a SAS cannot be publicly listed.

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