Ordinary shares

Securities which represent an ownership interest in a company. If the company has also issued preference shares, both have ownership rights. The preference shareholder normally is limited to a fixed dividend, but has prior claim on dividends and, in the event of liquidation, assets. Ordinary shareholders assume the greater risk, but generally exercise the greater control and may gain the greater reward in the form of dividends and capital appreciation. If the company is wound up, the ordinary shareholders generally rank behind secured creditors, including debenture holders, in the liquidation process.