The shareholder of a private company limited by shares is the owner of the business. A company can be formed with one shareholder in place or with multiple shareholders. But can a company be formed and then maintained with the identity of its shareholder being hidden? Let’s take a look.
Shareholder identity cannot be hidden
Generally speaking, you cannot hide the identity of a company shareholder from the Companies House public register.
If an individual (or corporate entity) is named as a shareholder when a company is formed, or entered on a confirmation statement post-formation, this information will appear on the public register.
The Companies House public register
As soon as a company is registered at Companies House, certain information about that company is placed on the register. This includes details about the shareholders, such as their name, address, and information on the shares that they hold within the company (including class, number, currency, nominal value, and whether they’re paid or unpaid).
Whilst this information isn’t quite as easy to access on the register as information on the company director(s) or people with significant control (PSCs), it can be found by locating the company’s incorporation documents.
If the company had made changes to its shareholding situation since incorporation, the updated shareholder information can be found in the confirmation statement (if one has been filed).
If the shareholder is a person with significant control
A person with significant control is the individual who holds paramount power within the company. In the majority of cases, a shareholder will also be a person with significant control.
When a company is formed (and when new people are added as PSCs), PSC information such as the name, correspondence address, date of birth, and nationality is published on the public register. This information is easy to access via the ‘People’ tab on a company’s main profile page.
As set out by Companies House, in certain circumstances it is possible to protect a PSC’s information from the public register, if the person in question:
- Has been targeted by activists
- Is licensed under the Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986
- Is active in the defence industry
- Is a traceable partner of any of the above
This list is not comprehensive. If you believe you qualify for this type of protection, you can find out more and apply here.
Nominee shareholders and the people with significant control register
Previously, a nominee shareholder service could protect the identity of a company’s shareholders.
Services such as this operated by naming a placeholder person or corporate entity as a shareholder on all official documentation, whilst an internal legal document – such as a deed of indemnity – outlined who the legitimate shareholder in the company was.
However, the introduction of PSCs and the PSC register in April 2016 rendered these services redundant, as the core purpose of the register is to increase transparency, by ensuring Companies House knows who the genuine owners of a company are.
Nominee services can still be effective in protecting the identity of directors, but their use is questionable and can raise concerns over a company’s legitimacy.
Protecting a shareholder’s residential address
As covered, you can’t generally protect the identity of a shareholder from the public register. However, if your company has not been formed yet, you can wholly shield a shareholder’s residential address from the public register by registering your limited company through our Privacy, Privacy Plus, Fully Inclusive, or Non-Residents company formation packages.
With each of these packages, you can use our Covent Garden address as the correspondence address for one shareholder in your company, thereby withholding a residential address from the public register.
Alternatively, if your company has already been formed, you can pick the service up separately, to ensure a new shareholder’s residential address is kept off any future confirmation statements.
So there you have it
Can you hide the identity of a company shareholder? No, you cannot, although you can take steps to prevent a shareholder’s address from appearing on the public register.
We hope you have found this post helpful. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.