Company Information: Overview

Public, Private, or Subsidiary

When researching company information, the first thing to determine is whether the company is publicly traded, privately held or a subsidiary of a parent company. It is also important to determine where the company is based.

Public companies have issued securities through an initial public offering (IPO) and have shares that are traded on a stock exchange. In the United States, public companies must file reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). 

Private companies have private ownership. Private companies may issue stock and have shareholders, but their shares are not traded on public exchanges. Private companies are not required to release any information and are therefore more challenging to research. Often the best way to find information is to search for articles published about the company in newspapers, magazines, trade journals and newspapers.

Subsidiaries are either partly or completely owned by a parent company. Parent companies are not required to file reports for their subsidiaries individually and are therefore more challenging to research. If the parent corporation is publicly traded, look for the parent's profile to find specific information on subsidiaries or divisions. If it is private, try the same techniques as for private companies.

To determine whether the company is public, private, or a subsidiary, try Gale: Business Insights. Search by company name to find company type, company hierarchy, headquarters location and more.


Databases and Websites




Book of Lists

The Business Journal Book of Lists provides listings of hundreds of the top area companies in their fields, by ranking. Find the names of key decision makers, their titles, and complete contact information.