Journal of Law, Finance, and Accounting > Vol 8 > Issue 1

Common Ownership and the (Non-)Transparency of Institutional Shareholdings: An EU – US Comparison

Sebastian Steuer, Leibniz Institute for Financial Research SAFE (LIF SAFE), Germany,
Suggested Citation
Sebastian Steuer (2024), "Common Ownership and the (Non-)Transparency of Institutional Shareholdings: An EU – US Comparison", Journal of Law, Finance, and Accounting: Vol. 8: No. 1, pp 91-141.

Publication Date: 22 Feb 2024
© 2024 S. Steuer
Firm ownership,  Disclosure,  Corporate governance,  Corporate finance,  Industrial organization,  Law and economics
JEL Codes: G23, G34, G38, K22, L10, L41
Common ownershipprofit weightsownership disclosure13F filingsindex fundspassive investorsinstitutional investorsBig Three


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In this article:
The Primary Sources of Ownership Data 
Empirical Framework: Disentangling the “Extra” Information in 13F Data 
Common Ownership Measures With and Without 13F Data 


The available evidence suggests that common ownership – the phenomenon that publicly traded stock is increasingly held by the same diversified investors, especially index fund managers – is much more pervasive in the US than in Europe. However, the ownership data situation in these jurisdictions is vastly different. In the US, institutional investors have to disclose periodically all their equity holdings on Form 13F, while no such disclosure exists in most other jurisdictions, including the EU and its Member States. The question, therefore, arises whether observed differences reflect actual differences or simple measurement error. In this paper, I develop a framework to quantify the extent to which US ownership statistics hinge on 13F filings. While 13F data greatly improve US coverage of institutional ownership in general, I show that the relevance of this extra coverage varies across different measures of common ownership. Most notably, firm-pairwise profit weights are hardly affected and tend to even decrease at the margin. Qualitatively, the observation that there is much more common ownership in the US than in Europe holds even if ownership information exclusively available via 13F filings is disregarded.