Subscribed capital

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Under German commercial law, subscribed capital is a part of the equity capital to which the liability of the shareholders for the liabilities of the corporation to the creditors is limited.


From this legal definition of Section 272, Paragraph 1, Clause 1 of the German Commercial Code (HGB) it follows that the specific legal concept of subscribed capital only applies to corporations. It is therefore exclusively applicable to the stock corporation (AG), limited partnership for shares (KGaA), the limited liability company (GmbH), the entrepreneurial company (limited liability) (UG (limited liability)) and also to the cooperative (eG). Sole traders and partnershipshowever, do not have “subscribed capital”. Instead of the balance sheet item "subscribed capital", the capital shares of the personally liable partners are to be shown ( Section 264c (2) sentence 2 HGB ).


The subscribed capital arises when the company is founded by paying in by the shareholders or later when the capital is increased . External financing is therefore the norm. In exceptional cases, however, it can arise from internal financing if capital increases are made from company funds ( sections 207 to 221 AktG). The subscribed capital is usually a fixed amount and is called share capital for the AG , limited partnership capital for the KGaA , share capital for the GmbH and business credit for the registered cooperative ( Section 337 (1) HGB).

Classification of subscribed capital in equity

For reasons of balance sheet clarity and balance sheet truth , the legislator has decided to break down the entire equity capital of corporations into its components. According to Section 266 (3) A HGB, the entire equity consists of

The companies are accordingly obliged to take these sub-items into account in their accounting .


After § 272 , para. 1, sentence 2 HGB signed capital is connected to the nominal value to passivate . If the subscribed capital was not immediately paid in in full, the passive adjustment item “ outstanding capital ” must be created. As long as the outstanding capital is not called, its valuation is not permitted. Only when the company has demanded the outstanding capital from its shareholders - and therefore an activation of a "claim against shareholders" is necessary - an assessment of the shareholders' creditworthiness is permitted within the framework of the (strict) lowest value principle .

Individual evidence

  1. Reinhard Heyd, Michael Beyer, Daniel Zorn : Accounting according to HGB in Schaubildern , 2014, p. 101 ( ).
  2. ^ Georg Wörner: Commercial and tax balance sheet according to the new law. 2003, p. 106 ( ).