Transnational Corporations

This journal takes a fresh look at major legal, sectorial, regional and environmental issues facing corporations operating internationally. Released three times a year, it provides in-depth policy-oriented research findings on significant issues relating to the activities of transnational corporations.


The blurring of corporate investor nationality and complex ownership

Recent years have seen a significant increase in the complexity of multinational enterprise (MNE) ownership structures. Complex corporate structures raise concerns about the effectiveness of national and international investment policies, based on the notion of investors’ nationality. This motivates this research effort, aimed at analysing the ownership structures of some 700 000 foreign affiliates (FAs). A new methodology, the bottom-up approach, is introduced. The main objective is to empirically map the “shareholder space” of FAs, along the vertical dimension, from the direct shareholders to the ultimate owners. We find that FAs are often part of transnational investment chains; more than 40 per cent of foreign affiliates have direct and ultimate shareholders in different jurisdictions (“double or multiple passports”). Based on shareholders’ nationality, we then propose and empirically analyse the salient features of four main archetypes of FAs ownership structure: plain foreign, conduit structures, round-tripping and domestic hubs. Each poses specific challenges to policymakers.


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