Share Capital: Meaning, Calculation and Implications

Share capital serves as the cornerstone of a company’s financial structure, embodying the collective contributions of shareholders. This essential element fuels business operations, expansion initiatives, and strategic investments.

Understanding its intricacies is paramount for investors, stakeholders, and company executives alike. Let’s look at the fundamentals of this concept, exploring its definition, types, calculation methods, and implications for businesses.

What is Share Capital?

Share capital in company law is the total value of funds a company raises by selling shares to shareholders. Also called shareholders’ capital, equity capital, or contributed capital, it’s vital for a company’s finances. This money, raised through share sales, helps the company operate, grow, acquire, or pay debts.

It is the money shareholders give to the company, serving as long-term funding, that supports the company’s operations, profitability, and growth. Legally, a company’s maximum share capital is set in its Memorandum of Association, which can be changed to allow for more shares.

Share capital appears as a liability in financial statements, representing the shareholders’ claims on the company’s assets. During liquidation, shareholders get any remaining assets after other obligations are settled.

Why Do Companies Raise Share Capital?

Companies raise share capital for various strategic purposes. It enables funding for expansion and growth initiatives, facilitating investment in new projects, market expansion, and asset acquisition. Secondly, it serves to meet capital requirements without incurring debt, strengthening financial positions and reducing reliance on loans. Thirdly, it can finance acquisitions and mergers, leveraging shares as currency for transactions. Moreover, raising capital can be instrumental in debt reduction, enhancing financial stability and reducing interest expenses. Lastly, it enhances investor confidence by signalling growth potential and financial strength, attracting investments and bolstering credibility.

Types of Share Capital

  1. Paid-Up Capital

    • Capital received by the company from share issues.

    • Constitutes the company’s actual funds.

    • Minimum requirement defined by relevant laws.

  2. Issued Capital

    • Shares actually issued to shareholders.

    • Includes common equity shares and preferred capital.

    • Appears in the liabilities section of the balance sheet.

  3. Authorised Capital

    • The maximum number of shares a company may issue.

    • Defined in the Memorandum of Association.

    • It can be increased with shareholder approval.

  4. Uncalled Capital

    • Shares issued but not yet claimed.

    • Appears in contingent liabilities.

    • Represents the balance after deducting called-up capital from the total allotted shares.

  5. Subscribed Capital

    • A portion of issued capital shareholders have agreed to purchase.

    • Represents the public’s interest in the company.

    • Payment may be in instalments.

  6. Reserve Capital

    • Capital is accessible only in case of bankruptcy.

    • Issued with special resolution and strict restrictions.

    • Reserved for emergencies to facilitate liquidation.

  7. Unissued Capital

    • Shares not yet offered to the public or employees.

    • Controlled by the Board of Directors.

    • Held in the company’s treasury for future use.

  8. Called-Up Capital

    • Subscribed capital for which shareholders have made payments.

    • Offers flexibility in investment and payment terms.

    • Captured under shareholders’ equity in the balance sheet.

Features of Share Capital

  • Liability Limitation : Shareholders’ liability is limited to the amount of capital invested in the company. This means they are not personally liable for the company’s debts beyond their investment.

  • Bonus Shares : Companies may reward shareholders by periodically offering them bonus shares at no cost.

  • Voting Privileges : Each shareholder is granted voting rights on every resolution concerning the company under Section 47 of the Companies Act, 2013. Shares often come with voting rights, allowing shareholders to participate in certain company decisions like dividend distribution or board member appointments. This empowers investors and ensures stakeholder involvement.

  • Absence of Charges : No charge is created on the company’s held assets when issuing share capital.

How to Calculate Share Capital?

Calculating share capital involves understanding the components of a company’s capital structure and applying a straightforward formula. Firstly, it’s crucial to ascertain the authorised share capital, which denotes the maximum value of shares a company can legally issue as specified in its constitutional documents, such as the Memorandum of Association (MoA).

Next, you need to determine the issued shareholders’ capital, which represents the actual portion of authorised shareholders’ capital allocated and offered to shareholders. This information is typically disclosed in the company’s financial statements or regulatory filings.

Additionally, identifying the nominal value per share is essential. The nominal or face value is the fixed value assigned to each share issued by the company, also outlined in the MoA.

Share Capital = Number of Issued Shares × Nominal Value per Share

For example, if a company has an authorised share capital of Rs. 10,00,000 and it has issued 100,000 shares with a nominal value of Rs. 10 per share, the calculation would be as follows:

Share Capital = 100,000 Shares × Rs. 10 per Share

= Rs. 1,000,000

Balance Sheet of Share Capital

A company’s balance sheet serves as a comprehensive snapshot of its financial position, with shareholders’ capital holding particular significance as it reflects the funds contributed by shareholders. This information is vital for investors seeking to assess the company’s financial stability. Shareholders’ capital is subject to fluctuations due to the issuance of new shares, repurchase of existing ones, or declarations of stock splits. These changes are meticulously documented in this capital balance sheet, ensuring transparency regarding shareholder capital alterations.

In the balance sheet, shareholders’ capital is presented as a distinct line item under the liabilities section, denoting the total value of the company’s issued shares. This depiction enables stakeholders to discern the company’s financial obligations related to shareholder equity separately from other liabilities like loans, long-term debts, and accrued expenses.

Share Capital Structure

The shareholders’ capital structure encompasses the assortment and organisation of shares issued by a company. It shows the allocation of the company’s capital among shareholders, portraying the ownership and financial framework of the enterprise. This arrangement mirrors the makeup of shareholders’ funds as depicted in the balance sheet and typically comprises diverse categories of shares, including:

  • Preference Shares : Offer preferential rights and privileges over equity shares, with a fixed dividend rate and priority in dividend payments and liquidation.

  • Equity Shares (common shares) : Represent ownership in the company and grant shareholders voting rights and a share in profits through dividends.

  • Non-Voting Shares : Issued without voting rights, typically aimed at investors seeking capital appreciation without involvement in company decisions.

  • Cumulative Preference Shares : Carry the right to accumulate unpaid dividends if dividends cannot be paid in a particular year, ensuring payment before equity shareholders receive dividends.

  • Redeemable Shares : These can be repurchased or redeemed by the company at a future date or upon fulfilling certain conditions, providing flexibility in managing the capital structure.

Factors Affecting the Share Capital of the Company

  • Company Size and Growth Prospects : A company’s size and growth potential directly influence its share capital. Larger companies with promising growth prospects often require more capital to fuel expansion initiatives, resulting in higher shareholders’ capital.

  • Capital Requirements and Funding Needs : Specific capital requirements, such as financing new projects or acquisitions, dictate the need for increased shareholders’ capital. Companies may raise capital to meet funding needs for various endeavours, impacting the level of share capital.

  • Industry and Market Conditions : Industry and market dynamics play a crucial role in determining share capital. Industries experiencing rapid growth or favourable market conditions tend to attract more investments, leading to higher levels of this capital.

  • Investor Expectations and Share Pricing : Investor sentiments and expectations significantly influence it. Positive investor outlook and attractive share pricing can drive higher levels of share capital as investors seek to capitalise on future profitability prospects.

Advantages of Raising Share Capital

  1. Credibility in Financial Markets : Companies with substantial share capital are often perceived as more financially stable and creditworthy by investors and lenders. A healthy capital base mitigates concerns about overreliance on debt and enhances the company’s overall financial security.

  2. Risk of Default : It diminishes the risk of default or bankruptcy as shareholders, being partial owners of the company, are inherently vested in its success. Their interest aligns with the company’s well-being, fostering stakeholder confidence and reducing the likelihood of default.

  3. Fixed Expenses : It imposes a flexible financial burden compared to debt instruments. While interest payments on loans are mandatory, dividend payments to shareholders are voluntary, providing companies with greater financial flexibility.

  4. Flexibility in Finance : It grants companies autonomy and flexibility in fund utilisation. Unlike debt financing, which may come with restrictive terms, companies have discretion over the use of share capital. They can raise additional funds in the future, providing a valuable source of financial flexibility.

Disadvantages of Raising Share Capital

  1. Dilution of Shares : Additional share issuances can dilute the ownership stake and voting rights of existing shareholders. This dilution impacts the earnings per share and can lead to reduced dividends for current shareholders.

  2. Transparency Requirements : Publicly traded companies face stringent compliance and reporting requirements, increasing administrative burdens and costs. Moreover, public ownership exposes company financials to greater scrutiny, potentially impacting competitive advantage and confidentiality.

  3. Ownership Control : Raising share capital through equity financing often entails relinquishing ownership and control as new shareholders gain voting rights. This loss of control can conflict with the founding team’s vision and strategic decision-making.

  4. Initial Public Offering Expenses : Conducting an initial public offering (IPO) is associated with substantial expenses, including preparation of prospectuses, underwriting fees, legal and financial advisory costs, listing fees, and marketing expenses. These costs can be prohibitive for smaller companies or startups seeking to go public.

  5. Shareholder Risk : Increasing the nominal value of shares raises shareholders’ future liability, particularly in liquidation or winding up. Shareholders may face potential losses beyond their initial investment, heightening risk exposure and uncertainty.


Share capital plays a vital role in shaping the financial landscape of companies, reflecting their financial health, growth prospects, and investor confidence. While it offers numerous advantages, such as financial flexibility and enhanced credibility, it also presents challenges like dilution of shares and increased transparency requirements.

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