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What is the difference between an independent company and a subsidiary company?

What is the difference between an independent company and a subsidiary company?

Here's a breakdown of the key differences between an independent company and a subsidiary company in Hong Kong:

Independent Company:

  • Separate legal entity: It exists as a distinct entity from its owners (shareholders) and directors.

  • Liability protection: The owners' personal assets are shielded from the company's debts and liabilities. This means if the company faces financial troubles, creditors cannot go after the owners' personal belongings.

  • Management autonomy: The company operates independently with its own board of directors and management team who make decisions regarding its operations.

  • Compliance: Subject to its own set of compliance requirements under Hong Kong company law.

Subsidiary Company:

  • Owned by another company (parent company): While it's a separate legal entity from its parent company, the parent company holds a majority or complete control over its shares.

  • Limited liability: Similar to an independent company, the parent company's assets are generally protected from the subsidiary's liabilities. However, there can be exceptions in specific situations.

  • Control by parent company: The parent company can influence the subsidiary's operations by appointing directors and potentially dictating strategic decisions.

  • Compliance: Subject to its own set of compliance requirements, but may also be subject to additional requirements depending on the parent company's structure and operations.

Here's an analogy:

  • Independent company: Imagine a house you own. You're responsible for everything related to the house, but it's completely separate from your other properties.

  • Subsidiary company: Imagine renting out an apartment while you own a house. The apartment is a separate unit from your house, but you still have control over who lives there and how it's managed.

Ultimately, the choice between an independent company and a subsidiary depends on various factors, including the desired level of control, liability protection, and the business's specific needs and goals.

Choice between an independent company and a subsidiary

Choosing between an independent company and a subsidiary in Hong Kong depends on various factors specific to your business situation and goals. Here's a breakdown of key considerations to help you decide:

Reasons to choose an independent company:

  • Autonomy and control: You have complete control over the company's operations, decision-making, and strategic direction.

  • Flexibility: You have the freedom to adapt to market changes and pursue new opportunities without needing approval from a parent company.

  • Simpler compliance: You only need to comply with the standard company law regulations for independent companies in Hong Kong.

  • Building your own brand identity: You can establish your own brand and reputation without being associated with another company.

Reasons to choose a subsidiary:

  • Access to resources: If you're a smaller company, having a parent company can provide access to resources like funding, technology, and expertise.

  • Shared infrastructure and services: You can potentially benefit from economies of scale by sharing resources and services with your parent company like marketing, legal, or accounting.

  • Leveraging the parent company's reputation: Depending on the parent company's brand recognition, being a subsidiary can potentially enhance your credibility and market access.

  • Tax benefits: In some instances, setting up a subsidiary in Hong Kong can offer tax advantages, depending on the specific structure and operations.

Additional factors to consider:

  • Your risk tolerance: Subsidiaries offer some protection to the parent company's assets, but there might be situations where the parent company could be held liable for the subsidiary's actions.

  • Exit strategy: Selling an independent company might be easier compared to selling a subsidiary, which often requires the parent company's involvement.

  • Complexity: Setting up and managing a subsidiary can be more complex compared to an independent company due to additional requirements for parent-subsidiary relationships.


It's crucial to consult with a professional like an accountant who can analyze your specific business needs and advise on the most suitable structure based on your unique circumstances and long-term goals.

How Bestar can Help

Bestar can assist you in understanding the key differences between an independent company and a subsidiary company in Hong Kong. We can help you determine the most suitable structure for your business based on your specific needs and goals.

Bestar offers a variety of services that can be helpful when deciding between forming an independent company or a subsidiary in Hong Kong. Here's how we can assist you:

Understanding the legal and regulatory landscape:

  • Bestar can explain the legal and regulatory requirements for both independent companies and subsidiaries in Hong Kong. This includes the formation process, ongoing compliance obligations, and tax implications.

Evaluating your business needs and goals:

  • We can help you assess your specific business needs and goals, such as your desired level of control, risk tolerance, and future growth plans.

Choosing the right structure for your business:

  • Based on our understanding of your business and the legal landscape, Bestar can advise you on the most suitable structure for your company, whether it's an independent company or a subsidiary.

Facilitating the incorporation process:

  • If you decide to form a subsidiary, we can assist with the incorporation process, ensuring all legal requirements are met.

Providing ongoing support:

  • Bestar can offer ongoing support with accounting, tax, and compliance matters for your chosen company structure.

By leveraging our expertise, you can make an informed decision about your company's structure and ensure you're on the right track for success in the Hong Kong market.

For tailored guidance specific to your situation, consult with Bestar.

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