The abbreviation S.A. or SA[a] designates a type of limited company in certain countries, most of which have a Romance language as their official language and employ civil law. Originally, shareholders could be literally anonymous and collect dividends by surrendering coupons attached to their share certificates. Dividends were therefore paid to whomever held the certificate. Share certificates could be transferred privately, and therefore the management of the company would not necessarily know who owned its shares.
As with bearer bonds, anonymous unregistered share ownership and dividend collection enabled money laundering, tax evasion, and concealed business transactions in general, so governments passed laws to audit the practice. Nowadays, shareholders of S.A.s are not anonymous, though shares can still be held by a holding company in order to obscure the beneficiary.
Sociedad Anónima or Sociedad por Acciones in Spanish
Mexican law also takes into account the variability of the corporate stock, resulting in most S.A. turning into Sociedad Anónima de Capital Variable (S.A. de C.V.), or Sociedad Anónima Bursátil de Capital Variable (S.A.B. de C.V.) for publicly traded companies.
Mexico also has Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada de Capital Variable (S. de R.L. de C.V.), which is analogous to the limited liability company.