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Mergers & Acquisitions/Different kinds of firms


What's the difference between

1/ A firm
2/ A company
3/ A corporation
4/ A conglomerate?

I don't need an academic answer. It's not for formal research. Just a very general one will do, just one line for each type.

Many thanks for your time,

Paul Murphy,
London, UK.


I will give you an answer based on US law.  Different countries sometimes use the same terms somewhat differently. Since you are in the UK, you may want to direct this question to a UK lawyer

1. A firm has no clearly defined meaning.  The term is often used interchangeably with the term "business". It might refer to a partnership, corporation, or any other business entity.

2. Likewise, a company has no clearly defined meaning and can apply to any kind of business. Often, when someone refers to a company they mean a corporation, but not always.

3. A corporation is a specific type of business entity formed under an applicable state statute. However, their various types of corporations formed under different statutes depending upon the state. For example, there are business corporations, professional service corporations, medical service corporations, and not-for-profit corporations, to name a few.

4. A conglomerate is a business entity (usually a corporation) that operates a number of distinct, unrelated businesses under one umbrella. Conglomerates became a popular investment strategy in the 1960s, but have largely fallen out of favor. Wikipedia has a nice short article that describes the concept behind conglomerates.

I hope this helps.

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David K. Staub


I am a business and tax attorney and have spent more than 30 years assisting people in buying, selling, merging and spinning off businesses. I can answer questions on the mergers and acquisitions process and the related legal issues, in general. Topics can include structuring the transaction, negotiating the deal, conducting due diligence, and more. I can also guide people to find sources for answers to specific legal questions which cannot be answered in a forum of this nature.


I have been an Illinois business attorney for almost 30 years. I have an extensive practice in the mergers and acquisitions area and have been involved in the tax and legal issues on hundreds of business transactions.

Staub Anderson LLC
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