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What is a Public Limited Company UK?

Public Limited Company UK


Usually, in the UK, the most common type of companies found are private limited comapanies. However, even if you start out as a private limited company, it is possible to convert it into a public limited company UK over time. It is legally shortened to PLC and stated under UK company law.

Just like any limited company, a public limited company UK must be registered and consolidated in the companies house. However, there are certain differences, advantages, pros, and cons to forming or converting to a public limited company UK.

For instance, if a company wants to generate vast capital. Then the most effective way to do that would be to form a public limited company. Nevertheless, UK startups are highly unlikely to begin doing business as a PLC.

The more common way that people follow in the UK is to first begin as a private limited company. And then later, once the business is established, convert into a PLC.

Public limited company definition

Public limited companies have limited liability. It implies that they are distinct legal entities separate from its owners and company shareholders just like private limited companies – the key difference being that it can offer shares to the general public. The shares of a limited company in the UK can be listed in the UK public stock exchange. They are traded and freely sold to the general public. As a result, PLCs are able to raise capital by making a public investment.

The general public who either draw a pension or have a share-based ISA. Sometimes, they have simply enjoyed a flutter on the stock exchange, therefore, hold shares in public limited companies. A significant percentage of the shares of a public limited company in the UK are usually owned by a pension. And investment funds (also known as “institutional investors”).

Difference between the private and public limited company

Public limited company examples

The easiest way to find a public limited company UK is from LSE or London Stock Exchange. To be more specific, you can find the largest public limited companies or PLCs in the UK.

From the FTSE 100 (Financial Times Stock Exchange 100), also popularly known as “Footsie”. It is basically an index where the largest PLCs in the UK are grouped together. These PLCs are capable of representing the whole economy of the UK.

However, it is not mandatory for every public limited company UK to list themselves on the public stock exchange. A company should be chosen if it wants to be enlisted or not, or it may not even be eligible for listing.

Footsie has some of the biggest PLCs by market capitalization. For instance, some of the public limited company examples UK include the names British Petroleum Company Limited, HSBC Holdings, Rolls-Royce Holdings, Royal Dutch Shell, British American Tobacco, and GlaxoSmithKline or GSK.


How to form a public limited company in the UK?

As with a private limited company, you similarly need to choose a unique name for your business. Make sure to check registered trademarks in order to ensure it does not infringe on any other previously registered names/ trademarks.

After that, you need to complete your application form with information. The information you will need includes your company name, officially registered office address, company type, check company director details, and so on. It is important to remember that PLCs need at least 2 directors on board and also a qualified company secretary.

Along with that, it is also important to draft the Articles of Association and Memorandum. Only then file all of those association documents to the UK Companies House.

Then you need to apply for a trading certificate. As a PLC, you need to have at least £50,000 in allotted share capital. Among the whole amount at least 25 percent of which is paid in full. Then only you can commence your business.

How many public limited companies are there in the UK?

There are around 2 million limited companies in the UK, almost 95% of which are private limited companies. Therefore, around 5% (approx 100000) of UK limited companies are public limited companies.


There are several advantages of forming a public limited company UK. For one, there is no limit to the maximum number of members the company can have. There can be a maximum of 15 board of directors in PLCs. The shares associated with a PLC are freely transferable. It means these shares are sold and bought by people trading on stock markets. In terms of transparency in accounting, PLCs usually rank higher than private companies. PLCs are more strictly regulated by law. Therefore, unlike a private limited company, a PLC is mandated to publish its annual financial statements. It opens to its potential investors and shareholders.

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