Defining and capturing information on the beneficial ownership of listed companies

  • Publication date: 28 March 2024
  • Authors: Ramandeep Kaur Chhina, Tymon Kiepe


Listed companies play a significant role in the global economy. As information about these companies is fundamental to their functioning and that of the business environment, they have historically been subject to disclosure and transparency requirements, focused mainly on informing and protecting investors. With the advent of BOT, many implementing agencies have faced challenges with how to deal with these companies. The application of BO definitions for non-listed companies to PLCs is challenging due to the distributed and dynamic nature of their ownership, and the presence of many intermediaries in securities markets. However, the exemption of PLCs from BO disclosure on the basis that they are already subject to transparency requirements may leave considerable blindspots in visibility over corporate ownership and control, due to the fact that these requirements can differ significantly, and may displace risk to PLCs.

The analysis of various international and national frameworks in this policy briefing suggests that relying on the concept of BI, whilst far less comprehensive than the concept of BO, may lead to more useful and usable information to be collected about the ownership and control of PLCs. If BI information is sufficient to meet policy aims, the main challenge becomes addressing the current deficiencies in the information ecosystem. Standardising both the definition of BI and the information collected as a minimum for all PLCs, and integrating BI into the information on the ownership and control of corporate vehicles held by central BO registers, may constitute significant steps towards developing a comprehensive view of corporate vehicles. BO disclosures may continue to be required and justifiable for some PLCs. More nuanced criteria on determining which PLCs need to disclose what, for instance based on their ownership and control structures, may lead to a more proportional and tailored approach. This will ensure information can be used to both protect the shareholders of PLCs and prevent their misuse. Policymakers should involve data users in making these decisions to ensure disclosure leads to effective data use.