This section is from the book "Business Finance", by William Henry Lough. Also available from Amazon: Business Finance, A Practical Study of Financial Management in Private Business Concerns.
The principal forms of business associations in France are: (1) the ordinary partnership with a firm name (societe en nom collectif); (2) the limited partnership (societe en commandite); (3) the joint-stock company (societe anonyme).
The partnership is much the same as under English and American law except that the personal element is even more strongly accentuated; for instance, it would be fraud to insert in the name of the firm the proper names of any persons not actually connected with the firm. The partners are considered to have given each other the right to manage one for the other, and to bind the firm by their signatures.
* Report of Massachusetts Tax Commissioners upon Voluntary Associations, January 17, 1912. See also Sears on "Effective Substitutes for Incorporation," and Chanler on "Express Trusts".
The so-called societe anonyme resembles the English joint-stock company more closely than the American corporation. The separate existence of the association, apart from the individuals who make it up, is not so much insisted upon as in this country. The directors must be chosen from among the shareholders. In France the directors must draw up a brief statement every half-year showing the condition of the company as regards assets and liabilities. In all corporations it is necessary to deduct not less than 5% from the net profits of each year for the purpose of forming a reserve fund. This deduction need not be continued after the reserve fund has come to exceed 10% of the capital of the company.
In general, without attempting to enter into legal technicalities, the customary character of business associations is the same throughout the Latin countries, including France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, and practically all of South America. In all these countries the societe anonyme is the form of association which corresponds to our corporation or joint-stock company.