What is a share?

A share refers to a share in a company's capital. It is, therefore, a deed of ownership.

How does it work?

Shares are generally acquired through the stock market. The price of the share of a listed company on the stock market fluctuates depending on the sales and purchases by investors. In other words, the price of a share depends on the supply of and demand for the share.

Shares are a risky investment. The shareholder is dependent on the rise or fall of the market price. The investors may make capital gains, but they may also lose all or part of the capital invested.

What rules apply?

Various information obligations apply to companies whose shares are admitted to trading on a regulated market, that result inter alia from the legislation on transparency, market abuse and offers of investment instruments to the public.

What does the FSMA do?

The FSMA supervises the financial markets and inter alia the financial information disseminated by companies. The FSMA carries out this supervision in various ways:

  • It sees to it that the information disseminated by listed companies is complete, gives a faithful image of the company in question, and is made available to the public in a timely manner.
  • It supervises the smooth functioning of the financial markets while also supervising the market infrastructures such as Euronext Brussels.
  • If a takeover bid is launched, the FSMA verifies compliance with the rules that guarantee equal treatment of shareholders.
  • The FSMA supervises the information disseminated by listed and unlisted companies within the framework of an offer to the public or a listing of shares in Belgium. Regarding offers to the public:
    • that are subject to the prospectus obligation, the FSMA gives prior approval to the prospectus and all advertisements for this offer, or determines whether the prospectus was approved in another country;
    • for which an information note must be published, the FSMA may, after the publication of that information note by the issuer and/or the offeror, verify its content as well as the advertisements for this offer;
    • where a crowdfunding service provider is involved, the FSMA does not approve the key investment information sheet in advance but may, when the offer is made via a crowdfunding service provider authorized by the FSMA, verify its content afterwards.
  • The FSMA may act in various ways if a company fails to comply with the rules (e.g. by publishing a warning, suspend an offer to the public, suspend the listing of a share, impose a fine, etc.).
  • The FSMA may investigate possible cases of insider dealing or market manipulation and, where necessary, impose a sanction.

Where can I get more information?

More information is available on this website and on (French - Dutch).