What are Stocks?
At their most basic stocks are nothing more than units of ownership in a corporation. In the United States every corporation, whether publicly traded or privately held, are required to issue stock. People, which can include other corporations, who own stock in a given corporation are called stockholders. In most corporations in the United States the CEO will be a, if not the, primary stockholder.
The only way to have ownership in a corporation is to be a stockholder of that corporation. Put another if someone would own 100% of the stock of a corporation, they would own 100% of that corporation. This situation might occur when an individual incorporates for liability purposes, but they have no partners and don’t intend to sell any of their stock to outside parties.
For publicly traded stocks, those that you can buy and sell on stock exchanges, it’s nearly impossible to purchase 100% of the stock even during a merger or buyout of corporations. Corporations usually make public offerings of stocks in order to raise money that may then be used for any number of reasons, but seldom to companies release 100% of their stock into the market.
While it is virtually impossible for someone to own 100% of a publicly traded companies stock, nearly all corporations have a majority stockholder who holds more than 50% of the company’s stock. Almost always this will be the founder of the company, of the descendants of the founder if the founder has since passed away. The person or entity that is the majority stockholder in a company is said to have controlling interest in that corporation because they have enough votes, more than 50%, to make any decision they want concerning the operation of the company.
Consider a company like Wal-Mart, it’s a publicly traded corporation which means anyone can buy and sell Wal-Mart stock. But the descendants of Sam Walton remain the majority stockholders in the company, and thus have controlling interest in Wal-Mart.