Cross-border corporate control is a major facet of globalisation. In roughly one out of four listed controlled companies in 2012, control was exercised by a foreign entity or family/individual. Controlling—and passive—ownership stakes are often hidden in complex structures, involving pyramids and chains of intermediate firms. Besides, shareholders often use shell companies incorporated in financial offshore centres. As we demonstrate in this paper, even locals use firms in tax-haven jurisdictions as conduits of their (controlling) equity stakes in domestic firms. However, international corporate control is not well-understood due to the esoteric corporate holding schemes and the complex network of equity holdings.

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