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Difference Between Subsidiary and Joint Venture

  • Post last modified:April 29, 2023
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Definitions of Subsidiary and Joint Venture Companies

Subsidiaries are companies owned and managed by another, commonly referred to as their parent company. Operating independently from its parent, each subsidiary acts as its own legal entity with its own management team and assets.

A joint venture is a business arrangement in which two or more companies come together to form an entity for a specific project or purpose. A joint venture exists as its own legal entity, while sharing ownership and control amongst partners. Partners typically contribute resources like capital, expertise, technology and expertise while sharing in risks and rewards of the venture.

Understanding the Difference Between Subsidiaries and Joint Ventures

Understanding the distinctions between subsidiary and joint venture can be essential to businesses as it impacts control, liability and tax implications of an arrangement. Selecting between these structures could have lasting ramifications on both business venture success as well as strategic goals of its parent company.

An option that best meets a parent company’s goals would be forming a subsidiary; otherwise, joint ventures might offer better ways of sharing risks and resources to reach specific goals or projects.

Understanding differences among countries can also help businesses determine the most advantageous structure for cross-border operations, as different nations impose unique legal and tax requirements and implications for subsidiaries and joint ventures operating across borders.

Understanding the differences between subsidiary and joint venture can assist businesses in making informed decisions about how to structure their operations, mitigate risk and reach their strategic goals.

Subsidiaries A subsidiary is defined as any legal entity owned and controlled by another, commonly known as its “parent company”, through majority share ownership. Operating as its own legal entity with separate management and assets.

Subsidiaries can help businesses expand their operations or enter new markets without having to create an entirely new company from the ground up. By purchasing majority share in an already established firm, the parent can leverage all its assets, expertise, and resources towards reaching its strategic goals.

Subsidiaries are usually organized as limited liability companies, meaning the parent company does not personally assume liability for debts or obligations of its subsidiary. However, if its subsidiary engaged in unlawful behavior such as fraud or negligence then the parent may become responsible.

One of the advantages of creating a subsidiary structure includes

Limited Liability Protection for Parent Company
Greater Control Over Operations Of Subsidiary
Access To Assets And Resources Of Subsidiary Potential Tax Benefits However, using a subsidiary structure could create disadvantages such as:

Initial costs to establish the subsidiary can be significant and could create conflicts between parent company management and subsidiary management, limiting flexibility regarding ownership and control as well as potential tax repercussions in different countries where it operates.
Joint Venture
A joint venture is an arrangement where two or more companies combine forces for the purpose of undertaking a specific project or purpose. A joint venture exists as its own legal entity separate from its parent companies with shared ownership and control between partners.

Joint ventures are an effective way for companies to collaborate on specific projects or enter new markets, typically contributing resources such as capital, expertise and technology while sharing in its risks and rewards.

Joint ventures may take different forms depending on the goals and needs of their partners, including limited liability partnerships (LLPs), corporations, or cooperatives.

Some advantages of adopting a joint venture structure:

One advantage of joint venture structures is sharing risk and reward between partners; accessing additional resources and expertise; entering new markets or projects more easily and potentially reaping tax benefits. On the other hand, some disadvantages associated with using such structures exist as well:

Potential for conflict among partners; Limited control over operations of the joint venture; Inflexible ownership and control structure with potential for disagreement over the distribution of profits/losses.

Joint ventures can be complex arrangements that require careful consideration from all parties involved to ensure everyone benefits equally from the arrangement.

What Is the Difference between Subsidiary and Joint Venture

The main differences between a subsidiary and joint venture are:

Definition of Subsidiary and Joint Venture Companies: A subsidiary is defined as any company owned by another through majority ownership, while a joint venture involves multiple companies coming together for a specific purpose or project to form one new entity.
Ownership: In a subsidiary, one company (usually its parent company) typically owns the majority of shares in that subsidiary; with joint ventures however, ownership can be shared among partners.
Control and Management: In general, parent companies retain greater control of a subsidiary’s operations and management; in a joint venture partnership agreement however, control is shared between all the partners involved.
Liability: With regard to liability in subsidiaries or joint ventures, parent companies do not incur personal liable for debts and obligations of their subsidiary while all partners share in jointly and severally responsibility for fulfilling all the venture obligations.
Taxation: Subsidiaries generally fall under the jurisdiction of their country of incorporation; joint ventures may be subject to taxes in multiple nations depending on where they operate.

There are both advantages and disadvantages associated with each structure; both subsidiaries and joint ventures involve collaboration among multiple businesses and can offer access to additional resources and expertise.

However, choosing between a subsidiary and joint venture depends on the goals, needs, and circumstances of both companies involved; due consideration must be given to any potential advantages or disadvantages each structure might pose.

Subsidiary and Joint Venture Companies Have Similar Resemblance

Although subsidiaries and joint ventures differ substantially in several respects, there are also some similarities. These include:

Collaboration: Both joint ventures and subsidiaries involve the cooperation between two or more businesses to achieve their common goal.
Limited Liability: Both structures generally provide limited liability protection to their parent companies. A subsidiary generally cannot hold its parent liable for debts and obligations beyond what was invested into it, while in joint ventures each partner usually only bears responsibility for his or her proportionate share of liabilities arising from joint venture activities.
Access to Resources: Both structures may provide access to additional resources such as capital, technology and expertise that might not otherwise be accessible to their parent companies separately.
Business Expansion: Both structures allow companies to expand their operations, enter new markets or pursue new projects without starting an entirely new business from scratch.
Potential tax benefits: Both structures could provide potential tax advantages depending on where they’re established and operated.

Both subsidiaries and joint ventures can be effective business structures for companies seeking to collaborate with other businesses, access additional resources, or achieve specific goals. Which one you choose ultimately depends on the unique circumstances and goals of both entities involved.


Understanding the differences between a subsidiary and joint venture is vitally important for businesses looking to collaborate with other firms, expand operations or launch new projects.

Although both structures involve collaboration and provide access to additional resources, their ownership, control, management, liability and taxation implications vary considerably; companies should carefully consider their goals, needs, circumstances and circumstances when choosing between either of these structures – seeking professional advice if necessary to select one suitable for them in their unique circumstances.