In financial parlance, an interest means direct ownership (in one's own name) of shares in another company.
When the voting rights attached to these shares surpass 50%, the holder is said to have a controlling interest. When the rights held directly are not sufficient to give the holder a controlling interest, but in practice they do give control when combined with the shares held by companies already under the holder's control, the situation is known as indirect control.
These definitions, used for statistical purposes, do not correspond precisely to the definitions used by accountants, who distinguish between:
- subsidiary companies which correspond to the definition of direct control;
- interests which concern only companies where there is no direct control (but which may be controlled indirectly);
- investments motivated by purely financial considerations.