Guide to Public Limited Companies

Guide to Public Limited Companies (PLCs)

28 June 2024 | Written by Innovus

Business Services

Public Limited Companies (PLCs) stand out as a powerful option for businesses looking to expand their horizons and tap into public investment. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the ins and outs of PLCs, from their definition and characteristics to the formation process and legal requirements. Whether you’re an entrepreneur considering your options or a business owner looking to take your company public, this guide will provide valuable insights into the world of PLCs.

What is a Public Limited Company (PLC)?

A Public Limited Company (PLC) is a type of limited liability company in the UK that can offer its shares to the general public. Unlike private limited companies, PLCs have the ability to raise capital by listing their shares on stock exchanges, making them an attractive option for businesses seeking substantial growth and investment. For a detailed definition, you can refer to the Companies Act 2006, Part 1, Chapter 1.

Key Characteristics of PLCs

  • Limited Liability: Shareholders’ liability is limited to the amount they have invested in the company.
  • Public Share Offering: PLCs can offer shares to the public and list on stock exchanges.
  • Minimum Share Capital: PLCs must have a minimum share capital of £50,000, of which at least 25% must be paid up.
  • “PLC” Suffix: The company name must end with “PLC” or “public limited company”.
  • Enhanced Transparency: PLCs are subject to stricter reporting and disclosure requirements.

You can find more information about these characteristics on the UK Government’s guide to setting up a PLC.

Advantages of PLCs

  • Access to Capital: PLCs can raise substantial funds by offering shares to the public.
  • Enhanced Credibility: Public status often lends greater prestige and credibility to a company.
  • Liquidity for Shareholders: Publicly traded shares offer easier buying and selling options for investors.
  • Employee Incentives: PLCs can offer share options as part of employee compensation packages.
  • Easier Acquisitions: PLCs can use their shares as currency for mergers and acquisitions.

For more on the benefits of going public, you can refer to the London Stock Exchange’s guide to IPOs.

Disadvantages of PLCs

  • Increased Scrutiny: PLCs face higher levels of public and regulatory scrutiny.
  • Higher Costs: Compliance with regulations and maintaining public status can be expensive.
  • Loss of Control: Founders may lose some control as ownership is diluted among public shareholders.
  • Short-term Pressure: The focus on quarterly results can sometimes overshadow long-term strategy.
  • Vulnerability to Takeovers: PLCs may be more susceptible to hostile takeovers.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) provides detailed information on the regulatory requirements for listed companies, which can help you understand the potential challenges.

Formation Process for a PLC

Setting up a PLC involves several steps:

  1. Choose a unique company name ending with “PLC”. You can check name availability using the Companies House name availability checker.
  2. Appoint at least two directors and a qualified company secretary.
  3. Have at least two shareholders.
  4. Prepare and submit necessary documents to Companies House, including:
    • Memorandum of Association
    • Articles of Association
    • Form IN01
  5. Obtain a trading certificate from Companies House.
  6. Ensure the minimum share capital requirement is met.

For a step-by-step guide, visit the Companies House website.

Legal Requirements for PLCs

PLCs must comply with various legal requirements, including:

  • Maintaining a registered office address in the UK
  • Keeping statutory books and records
  • Filing annual accounts and returns with Companies House
  • Holding Annual General Meetings (AGMs)
  • Complying with the UK Corporate Governance Code (for listed PLCs)
  • Meeting ongoing disclosure requirements

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) provides comprehensive guidance on corporate governance and reporting requirements.

PLCs vs. Private Limited Companies

While both PLCs and private limited companies offer limited liability, there are significant differences. The Companies House guidance provides a comprehensive comparison of different business structures.

PLCs and the Stock Market

One of the primary advantages of PLCs is their ability to list on stock exchanges. This process, known as an Initial Public Offering (IPO), allows companies to raise significant capital for expansion. The London Stock Exchange offers detailed information on listing requirements and processes.

Role of Company Directors and Company Secretaries in PLCs

Directors of PLCs have significant responsibilities, as outlined in the Companies Act 2006. The Institute of Directors (IoD) provides valuable resources on directors’ duties.

PLCs must also appoint a qualified company secretary. The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland offers information on the role and responsibilities of company secretaries.

Share Capital and Raising Funds

PLCs have greater flexibility in raising capital through various means. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) provides detailed guidance on different methods of raising capital in public markets.

Regulatory Compliance for PLCs

PLCs are subject to stringent regulatory oversight, including:

Compliance with these regulations is crucial to maintain public trust and avoid penalties.

How Innovus Can Help Set Up Your PLC

At Innovus, we understand the complexities involved in forming and managing a Public Limited Company. Our expert team, with over 35 years of combined experience in company formation, can guide you through every step of the process.

We offer:

  • Professional advice on company structure and formation
  • Assistance with all necessary documentation, including certificate of incorporation, share certificates, and Memorandum and Articles of Association
  • Full company secretarial support
  • Registered office address service
  • Guidance on setting up your business bank account
  • Expert share advice

Our cutting-edge systems ensure your business meets all regulatory requirements and links directly to Companies House, minimising the risk of errors or oversights that could lead to penalties or legal complications.

Whether you’re considering forming a PLC or need ongoing support for your existing public company, Innovus is here to help. Our meticulous approach and proven expertise will give you peace of mind, allowing you to focus on growing your business.

Contact Innovus today to learn more about our company formation services and how we can assist you in setting up and managing your Public Limited Company.

By incorporating these external links and references to authoritative sources, we’ve enhanced the credibility and usefulness of the guide. Readers can now easily access additional information from official and reputable sources, making the article more valuable and trustworthy.

Get in touch today

Our team of experts is here to guide you.



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