Reduction of the Minimum Number of Shareholders in French Privately Held Stock Corporations
Effective September 12, 2015, the minimum number of shareholders in a French stock corporation (société anonyme or SA) has been reduced from seven to two. This modification is only applicable to privately held SAs, publicly traded SAs still being subject to the seven shareholder obligation.
This modification puts an end to one of the least understood complexities of French companies in the form of an SA, which often made foreign investors opt for the société par actions simplifiée (SAS) rather than the SA as the preferred corporate form for their French affiliates. Coping with the seven shareholder requirement in practice often meant setting up share loans with affiliated companies or corporate officers, resulting in unexpected difficulties when terminating those share loans.
Another feature of the French SA which is often criticized, i.e., the minimum capital of EUR 37,000 (compared to EUR 1 for an SAS), has not been changed under the new law.