Ownership data for companies

Simple question everyone, regarding the ownership data for the companies, which one has the most recent data? Annual reports from the .pdf files, or the data we get from the API? From the API endpoint persons_significant_control

Seems to have a conflict between these 2, providing different ownership data


Caveat - I am just another poster here - NOT Companies House. As I understand it:

This isn’t really a conflict - there are just different data provided in different places. However how and what was recorded as “shareholder data” did indeed change in some ways some years ago.

Short - if you want the detail about shares specifically (e.g. exactly who owns how many of what class of share) since around 2016 this is not so simple to obtain:

  • Persons With Significant control data just lists shares held in one of three brackets and gives a percentage, not actual number of shares.

  • (You mentioned “annual reports” - I assume you refer to Annual Returns?) You can’t just download the last Confirmation Statement (these “replaced” Annual Returns around 2016). They are different and do not necessarily always contain the current shareholder details like the Annual Return did.

So depending on what you want, you may have to:

  • Find a third party service which can provide this data.

  • Analyse this yourself by looking through the filing history / PSC data. If you want to analyse the filing history programmatically note that most filings (even online) have been in PDF format where the contents were just rendered as raster data - so you would need OCR / some document parser to extract machine-readable data from these. Of course older forms can be scans of literal paper documents with handwriting.

What you get via the API is the record. So when you request the Persons With Significant Control data from the API that should return the current “truth” (note 1).

The process for companies updating the record has changed slightly. It used to be that the “truth” could be essentially found in the last annual return. However on 30th June 2016 I believe the new system started. Companies confirm that the current position is correct every so often with a “Confirmation Statement” instead of the “Annual Return”. Since this document is just to confirm the current data if it is correct that is literally all it says! So many of the “Confirmation Statements” will not tell you what the current situation is e.g. shareholders etc. - you have to look at the API (and for a position at any point in history you’d need to work back / forward through the filing history noting the changes …)

Confirmation Statements may record more information (if there were changes) but if the record is already correct they do not need to do so.

There is of course another difference in that the Annual Return specifically set out the shareholders and their holdings. Again - you may find this on a Confirmation Statement and you should find these on other filings specifically to do with shares. However the Persons With Significant Control data set is not the same:

a) It categorises shareholding in 3 categories (25 - 50%, 50 - 75%, 75 - 100%)
b) It actually is concerned with a wider notion of “who has what rights over the company” - these are listed in the natures of control (see a list here).

So now you will only find the “actual shares held” recorded in:

  • Incorporation documents

  • Filings to do with Shares

  • If the company is an older one - annual returns filed some time in the past.

note1: Of course - by law Companies House is just a registry e.g. their job is to record what the public tell them. They are not detectives and do not generally “investigate” things e.g. if a company files something they have to record it as “fact”.