Tricky Words in this week‘s OVI
Akciová spoločnosť. The capital structure of this type of company, as revealed in the radiators piece: “the sole shareholder of the BOKI Group a.s. corporation”, makes me hesitate to translate a.s. as “joint-stock company”. The Slovak term akciová spoločnosť indicates that the company’s founding capital was raised through the issuing of shares (akcie), and by law the minimum capital to be paid in (základné imanie) is 25000 euros. The Slovak term does not say that there must be more than one shareholder (akcionár), unlike the English term, where the word “joint” means spolu, spoločne- or hromadne-. So in Slovakia (and the other post-totalitarian countries which took up the German system of company structures after 1989) it is possible to find akciové spoločnosti with only one investor or sole shareholder, and as a result you can talk here about “the owner” of the company.
Historically the nobility scorned going into business, and members of the other classes did not have enough money individually to start up a large company, so they joined together and invested in a shared company. Each investor got a number of shares proportional to the amount they invested. None of them wanted to be held responsible individually for all the company's debts, so a joint-stock (stock means a bundle of shares) company was also a limited-liability company (but with greater ručenie than a private limited company, Ltd.). Each shareholder hoped to get dividends depending on the company's profits, or they could decide to sell their shares and get their original investment back. For these reasons it does not make sense to talk about “the owners” of a joint-stock company or a corporation, only “the shareholders”.