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Structure of Business Entities

In Australia, individuals can conduct business through various structures, from being a sole trader, to being in partnership, through a trust, a joint venture, or even as a corporation.

Foreign companies that wish to operate in Australia have the option to establish a wholly or partly owned subsidiary company or register as a foreign company conducting business in Australia, commonly known as a branch office.

To establish an Australian subsidiary, foreign companies can register a new company with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). Previously, acquiring shelf companies was common, but it has become rare due to the ease of incorporating new companies. Upon registration, the company is issued a unique nine-digit Australian Company Number (ACN).

The Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) provides options for the type of company, including unlimited with share capital, limited by shares, limited by guarantee, or a no liability company (applies only to companies with mining or mining-related objects). The most common type is a company limited by shares, which can be either proprietary or public companies. Public companies may engage in public fundraising and be listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). The crowd-sourced funding (CSF) regime in the Corporations Act allows eligible public and proprietary companies to engage in public fundraising with certain conditions. Under the CSF regime, companies can raise up to AUD 5 million in any 12-month period, and retail investors have a cap of AUD 10,000 per company in the same period.