Foreign Subsidiary

What is a Foreign Subsidiary ?


A foreign subsidiary is a company operating in one country while being owned, fully or partially, by a company in another country. For instance, a technology firm based in Germany could be a subsidiary of a larger corporation headquartered in the United States.

These subsidiaries are separate legal entities from their parent companies, adhering to the local laws and tax regulations of the countries they operate in.

Reasons for Establishing Foreign Subsidiaries

Companies may open foreign subsidiaries to:

  • Enter New Markets: Establishing a presence in a new geographical area.
  • Access Regional Talent Pools: Utilizing specialized skills available in certain countries.
  • Benefit from Tax Incentives: Leveraging potentially lower local tax rates.
  • Manage Physical Assets: Operating factories or data centres in different countries.

Employment Law and Foreign Subsidiaries

Foreign subsidiaries operate under local employment laws, simplifying the hiring process compared to foreign branches. They can employ local staff under local laws, offering a more straightforward approach to international expansion.

Advantages of Foreign Subsidiaries

  • Market Access: They provide direct access to new markets and local talent.
  • Local Tax Benefits: Subsidiaries pay taxes locally, which can be advantageous.
  • Risk Reduction: The parent company is shielded from certain liabilities.
  • Challenges of Foreign Subsidiaries
  • High Costs: Establishing a subsidiary can be expensive, including setup fees and operational costs.
  • Complexities: Navigating international laws and cultural differences can be challenging.
  • Compliance Risks: Each country's unique regulations pose potential compliance issues.
  • Difficult Dissolution Process: Closing a foreign subsidiary can be complex and time-consuming.

Alternatives to Foreign Subsidiaries

Companies seeking to avoid the complexities and costs of foreign subsidiaries often turn to global employment platforms. These platforms streamline the process of international hiring and operations, handling onboarding, payroll, and compliance, thereby allowing the parent company to focus on its core business activities.