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Unit 18. CorporationАкционерное общество

Акционерным обществом (глава 4 ГК РФ) признается общество, уставный капитал которого разделен на определенное число акций; участники акционерного общества (акционеры) не отвечают по его обязательствам и несут риск убытков, связанных с деятельностью общества, в пределах стоимости принадлежащих им акций.

Отличительными чертами акционерного общества (далее – АО) являются: 1) деление уставного капитала на доли (вклады) участников (акционеров) равного размера; 2) доли участия в уставном капитале воплощаются в специальные ценные бумаги – акции, из номинальной стоимости которых составляется этот капитал; 3) ограниченность для акционеров риска убытков, связанных с деятельностью АО, стоимостью принадлежащих им акций.

List of key terms and word combinations:

– articles of incorporation – договор об учреждении корпорации

– bylaws – правила внутреннего распорядка (принимаемые правлением фирмы)

– cash dividend – дивиденд, выплаченный наличными

– certificate of authority – документ, удостоверяющий какое-либо право

– certificate of incorporation – разрешение (государственного органа) на создание корпорации

– close corporation – закрытая акционерная корпорация (с ограниченным числом участников, не имеющих права продавать свои акции без согласия других акционеров)

– common stock – обычные (обыкновенные) акции

– сorporation by estoppel – корпорация, существование которой подтверждено судом на основании неопровержимых фактов

– dividends – дивиденды

– incorporators – учредители

– novation – новация; перевод долга; цессия прав по обязательству

– preferred stock – привилегированные акции

– private corporation – частно-правовая корпорация

– quasi-public corporations – квазигосударственная корпорация (действует как частное предприятие, но имеет от государства привилегии)

– statutory agent – представитель в силу закона

– stock certificate – сертификат о праве собственности на акции

– stock dividend – дивиденд в форме акций

A corporation is a legal entity (or a legal person) created by a federal statute authorizing individuals to operate an enterprise.

The corporation offers a convenient and efficient way to finance a large-scale business operation by dividing its ownership into many units; these units can be sold easily to a large number of investors.
The corporate form also offers limited liability to those who share its ownership. In this way, the personal assets of the corporation's owners cannot be taken if the corporation defaults on its obligations or commits a tort or a crime. Unlike the legal status of the partnership, the legal status of the corporation is not affected by the death, incapacity, or bankruptcy of an officer or shareholder.

A private corporation is a corporation formed by private persons to accomplish a task best undertaken by an entity that can raise large amounts of capital quickly or that can grant the protection of limited liability. If the corporation is organized for profit-making purposes, those profits may be distributed to the shareholders in the form of dividends. Dividends are the net profits, or surplus, set aside for the shareholders. Shareholders (or stockholders) are the persons who own units of interest (shares of stock) in a corporation.

The term public corporation is properly used to describe a corporation created by a government for governmental purposes. The term includes incorporated cities, sanitation districts, school districts, transit districts, and so on.

Corporations that are privately organized for profit but also provide a service upon which the public is dependent are generally referred to as quasi-public corporations. In most instances, they are public utilities, which provide the public with such essentials as water, gas, and electricity.

A business corporation may be designated as a close corporation when the outstanding shares of stock and managerial control are closely held by fewer than 50 shareholders.

The people who want to begin a new corporation or who want to incorporate an existing business are called promoters. These people do the actual day-to-day work involved in the incorporation process. Promoters occupy a fiduciary relationship with the nonexistent corporation and its future shareholders, which means that the promoter must act in the best interests of the new corporation and its shareholders.

Incorporators are the people who prepare, actually sign the articles of incorporation, and submit them to the appropriate government office.

The articles of incorporation are the written application to the government body for permission to incorporate. The articles, together with the status of incorporation, represent the legal boundaries within which a corporation must conduct its business.

The articles of incorporation must include the corporation name; the duration of the corporation; the purpose(s) of the corporation; the number and classes of shares; the shareholders' rights in relation to shares, classes of shares, and special shares; the shareholders' right to buy new shares; the addresses of its original registered (statutory) office and its original registered (statutory) agent; the number of directors plus the names and addresses of the initial directors; and each incorporator's name and address.

Once satisfied that all legal formalities have been met, the appropriate government officer will issue the corporation's charter, or certificate of incorporation. The charter, or certificate of incorporation, is the corporation's official authorization to do business in the state. After the charter is issued, the corporation then becomes a fully and legally incorporated entity. The work of the promoters and incorporators ends, unless they become directors or officers of the corporation.

The first order of business upon incorporation is the holding of an organizational meeting. The meeting must be run by the initial directors designated in the articles, or by the incorporators. The first order of business at an incorporator-run meeting is to elect the directors.

In addition to the appointment of the first directors, the adoption of bylaws, or regulations, also occurs at the organizational meeting. Bylaws, or regulations, are the rules that guide the corporation's day-to-day internal affairs. Bylaw provisions usually stipulate the time and place of shareholders' and directors' meetings, quorum requirements, qualifications and duties of directors and officers, and procedures for filling board vacancies.

For various liability reasons, the courts may be called upon to decide whether a business entity is a de jure corporation, a de facto corporation, or a corporation by estoppel.

A corporation whose existence is the result of the incorporators having fully or substantially complied with the relevant corporation statutes is a de jure corporation.

Its status as a corporation cannot be challenged by private citizens or the state.

Sometimes an error is made in the incorporation process, and the corporation does not exist legally. Nevertheless, as long as the following conditions have been met, a de facto corporation (a corporation in fact) will exist: a valid state incorporation statute must be in effect, the parties must have made a bona fide (good faith) attempt to follow the statute's requirements for incorporation, and the business must have acted as if it were a corporation. Only the state can directly challenge the existence of a de facto corporation. Thus, a de facto corporation has the same rights, privileges, and duties as a de jure corporation as far as anyone other than the state is concerned.

In some jurisdictions, if a group of people act as if they are a corporation when in fact and in law they are not, any parties who have accepted that counterfeit corporation's existence will not be allowed to deny that acceptance. Similarly, individuals who acted as if they were a corporation will not be able to deny that the corporation exists. This doctrine has been labeled corporation by estoppel, which is a legal fiction used by the courts on a case-by-case basis to prevent injustice.

Sometimes, the court will disregard corporate status to impose personal liability on those who have used the corporation to commit fraud or crimes or to harm the public. In such cases, the court will pierce the corporate veil and hold the wrongdoers (usually the controlling shareholders) personally liable for activities committed in the corporation's name.

Corporate financing begins when the original investments are made to set up the corporation. Once the corporation is operating, additional corporate financing may be obtained from earnings, loans, and the issuance of additional shares of stock. The issuing and selling of shares of stock in order to raise capital is known as equity financing, and the equity securities give their owners a legal interest in the assets, earnings, and control of the corporation.

The part of a corporation's net profits or surplus that is set aside for the shareholders is known as dividends.

The number of shares and classes of stock that a corporation is authorized to issue are established in its certificate of incorporation. A shareholder who purchases corporate stock invests money or property in the corporation and receives a stock certificate. A stock certificate is written evidence of ownership of a unit of interest in the corporation.

The most common type of dividend is the cash dividend declared and paid out of current corporate earnings or accumulated surplus at regular intervals. A corporation's board of directors has the sole authority to determine the amount, time, place, and manner of dividend payment. In a few instances, a distribution of earnings is made in shares of capital stock. This is called a stock dividend.

The most usual type of corporate stock is common stock. Common stock carries with it all the risks of the business, inasmuch as it does not guarantee its holder the right to profits. The holders of common stock are paid dividends when the corporation elects to make such a distribution.

Classes of stock that have rights or preferences over other classes of stock are known as preferred stock. These preferences generally involve the payment of dividends and/or the distribution of assets on the dissolution of the corporation. Preferred stock may be either cumulative or noncumulative. In general, dividends on cumulative preferred stock are paid every year, or in later years, if any dividends at all are paid by the corporation. Dividends of noncumulative preferred stock are also usually paid each year. However, with noncumulative preferred stock, dividends that are not paid in one year are lost forever. Participating preferred stock is stock that gives its holders a priority on a certain stated amount or percentage of dividends. After a prescribed dividend is paid to the participating preferred shareholders and the common stock shareholders, both participating preferred and common stock shareholders share in any surplus.

The holders of nonparticipating preferred stock are not entitled to any distribution of surplus dividends along with common stock shareholders. The rights that preferred shareholders enjoy in regard to dividends do not include the inherent right to receive them. They are merely superior rights to dividends over common stock shareholders, when and if dividends are declared by the corporation's board of directors.

Par value is the value that is placed on the shares of stock at incorporation. This value, which is the same for each share of stock of the same issue, is stated on the corporation's certificate of incorporation. In the case of par value shares, the amount of the capital stock or stated capital is the total par value of all of the issued stock. No par value stock is corporate stock that is issued without any stated price.

Exercise 1. Comprehension questions:

1. Explain the term corporation.

2. Identify the difference between the legal status of the partnership and the legal status of corporation.

3. How is the corporation taxed?

4. What may be the purposes of private corporations?

5. What rights do shareholders have?

6. What is the purpose of corporation by estoppel?

7. What are the duties of promoters?

8. Explain the term novation.

Exercise 2. Find in the text English equivalents to the following:

Правила внутреннего распорядка; дивиденд, выплаченный наличными; разрешение на создание корпорации; закрытая акционерная корпорация; обыкновенные акции; дивиденды; учредители; цессия прав по обязательству; привилегированные акции; частно-правовая корпорация; представитель в силу закона; сертификат о праве собственности на акции; дивиденд в форме акций.

Exercise 3. Consult recommended dictionaries and give words or phrases to the following definitions:

Закрытое акционерное общество; открытое акционерное общество; уставный капитал; дочерние и зависимые общества; цена размещения акции; бюллетень для голосования; выплата дивидендов.

Exercise 4. Be ready to talk on one of the following topics:

1. Distinguish by their characteristics the major forms of business incorporations.

2. Relate how state incorporation statutes, articles of incorporation, initial organizational meetings, and corporation bylaws each serve to define the legal boundaries within which a corporation may conduct its business.

3. Differentiate among de jure corporation, de facto corporation, and corporation by estoppel.

4. Explain the activities that would cause courts to go behind the legal status of a corporate entity to pierce the corporate veil.

5. Distinguish between common and preferred stock and between par value and no par value stock.

Exercise 5. Make up your own dialog on the case: Instead of forming the corporation before engaging in any promotional activities, a promoter may enter into all contracts and commitments in his own name without referring to a «corporation to be formed», and thereafter assign all his rights and duties to the corporation. If a promoter does so, what are his liabilities under the contracts after they are assigned to the corporation? What problems may the corporation face if it seeks to enforce such a contract against the other party?

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Источник: Е.Г. Анисимова, С. В. Коростелёв. Английский язык для юристов. Предпринимательское право. 2011

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