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A public limited company (legally abbreviated to PLC or plc) is a type of public company under United Kingdom company law, some Commonwealth jurisdictions, and the Republic of Ireland. It is a limited liability company whose shares may be freely sold and traded to the public (although a PLC may also be privately held, often by another PLC), with a minimum share capital of £50,000 and usually with the letters PLC after its name. Similar companies in the United States are called publicly traded companies. Public limited companies will also have a separate legal identity.
A PLC can be either an unlisted or listed company on the stock exchanges. In the United Kingdom, a public limited company usually must include the words "public limited company" or the abbreviation "PLC" or "plc" at the end and as part of the legal company name. Welsh companies may instead choose to end their names with ccc, an abbreviation for cwmni cyfyngedig cyhoeddus. However, some public limited companies (mostly nationalised concerns) incorporated under special legislation are exempted from bearing any of the identifying suffixes. The term "public limited company" and the "PLC"/"plc" suffix were introduced in 1981; prior to this, all limited companies bore the suffix "Limited" ("Ltd."), which is still used by private limited companies.
When a new company incorporates in England and Wales or in Scotland, it must register with Companies House, an executive agency of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Prior to October 2009 companies in Northern Ireland were registered with the Northern Ireland Executive's Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, but since then Northern Irish company registrations are also handled by Companies House along with the rest of the United Kingdom.
Formation of a public limited company requires a minimum of two directors and one secretary (differing from country to country: in India three directors are required). In general terms anyone can be a company director, provided they are not disqualified on one of the following grounds:
Both a private company limited by shares and an unlimited company with a share capital may re-register as a plc, but a company without a share capital cannot do so.
A private company must pass a special resolution that it be so re-registered and deliver a copy of the resolution together with an application form to the Registrar. The resolution must also:
If it does not already have sufficient share capital, the company must issue £50,000 in shares a minimum of 25% part paid.