February 25, 2024

Here at Tapfiliate, we often refer to “affiliates” as the websites that marketers pay to advertise their products. In this post, we veer from the traditional affiliate definition and provide an alternative one. In this piece, we’ll examine how the term is used in business settings. In no way related to the commercial sense of the term. The term affiliate vs subsidiary may indicate several different things depending on the context in which it is used, although having the same spelling.

In other words, what exactly are “Affiliate Companies”?

The term “affiliate” is not being used in the sense of someone who promotes your business for you. In business, an affiliate is a firm that partners with another. When a parent corporation holds less than half of the shares of a subsidiary, they are considered affiliates.

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The parent firm maintains a minority stake and has no voting rights on the board of directors or in the management or daily operations of the associated company. By just handing up a little number of their shares, linked corporations may have many parent companies, so long as the overall percentage controlled by other organizations stays below 50%. The parent business must retain control of at least 50% of the shares in any subsidiaries.

Companies A and B are still running independently:

Nonetheless, there will be other motivations for businesses to form such joint ventures, such as improving the effectiveness of the parent company’s operations or gaining more influence over the supply chain. Affiliate and subsidiary are common phrases used when discussing multi-national corporations. Affiliate businesses and subsidiary companies are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are important distinctions between the two that should be made clear. However, this is not the case. Although both are often used in casual business settings, their meanings couldn’t be further different.

Subsidiary Businesses: What Do They Do?

When a parent firm controls more than half of a subsidiary’s stock, the latter is considered a subsidiary of the parent. Having control of the company as the dominant shareholder allows the parent company to influence day-to-day decisions, board membership, and the company’s strategic direction.

The dominant shareholder’s financials may include information about a subsidiary. Such is the degree to which these corporations are connected. The subsidiary firm is legally considered to be separate from the parent business even if the parent owns the majority of the voting stock. Each entity has its taxation, responsibilities, and management structure.

Comparison between an Affiliate and a Subsidiary:

The motivation for the founding of each of these businesses is identical. Companies and MNCs who want to invest directly in an overseas business often establish a subsidiary or affiliate there. This helps businesses avoid the bad press that might come with controversy or foreign ownership, and it also allows them to enter new areas where they would have had trouble before.


The degree of ownership (the number of shares owned by the parent firm) is the primary distinction between the two. Affiliate businesses must have less than 50% ownership by the controlling corporation. The holding company must have more than 50% ownership of the subsidiary for it to be considered a subsidiary. This brings us to the second key distinction: the level of control exercised by the holding company. As opposed to subsidiaries, over which the parent firm often has majority control and is shown deference, affiliates are subject to little oversight by the parent company.

Grasp of ownership

The primary distinction between a subsidiary and an affiliate is the degree of ownership. An organization may be broken down into its subsidiaries, associates, and parent company based on the hierarchy of ownership within the group. Affiliate companies are those in which the parent firm owns between twenty percent and fifty percent of the shares. When a parent business establishes a subsidiary, it must have a controlling ownership of at least 50%. The parent firm may own 100% of the stock in some subsidiaries.

Capacity to Control

Control, an important factor, is directly related to the level of ownership. The level of control is greater when the parent firm has a larger share of the stock. Therefore, a subsidiary’s day-to-day activities are largely under the parent company’s authority. The parent firm also has a substantial role in the subsidiary’s most crucial decision-making as a member of the board of directors. However, the affiliate has the option of running the firm as it sees fit.

When a parent firm has a smaller shareholding, it does not have voting representation on the board of directors. Affiliates often have complete autonomy when it comes to decision-making for their businesses.

Consolidated Affiliates and Subsidiaries: A Real-World Illustration

We’ll use MGM Resorts International, a Las Vegas-based casino and resort operator, to illustrate the difference between a subsidiary and an associated business. MGM Resorts manages many domestic and international gaming establishments. MGM China Holdings Limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MGM. MGM China is considered a subsidiary of MGM Resorts International since it has more than 50% ownership in the corporation.

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The Las Vegas Arena Company is a subsidiary of MGM Resorts International. The T-Mobile Stadium in Las Vegas is one of the highest-grossing arenas in the world, and it is managed by the firm. The arena hosts a wide variety of events, including concerts and athletic competitions. Revenue reports show that MGM Resorts owns 42.5 percent of Las Vegas Arena Company.

Closing Remarks for affiliate vs subsidiary

To be sure, a subsidiary is not the same thing as an associate. If you’re thinking about handing up part of your firm to another, you need to think about the amount you’re prepared to let go of – not only in terms of shares but also in terms of control. And let’s say you’re considering establishing a holding company out of one of your investments. In such a situation, you’ll want to think about your financial means and how deeply you want to integrate yourself with the other firm.

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