Literally a public company is a company owned by the public. There are two uses of this term.
  • One meaning is that the company is owned by a government body. Usually this means that the company is guided by the state and that making profit is not its primary goal. Privatization is a trend related to globalization with the result that more and more public companies are becoming 'normal' companies. Many public companies are also monopolies.
  • The other meaning is that the company is owned and traded publicly. Ownership is open to anyone that has the money and inclination to buy shares in the company. It is differentiated from privately held companies.