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The World’s Oldest Shareholding Company

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The Fascinating 600-Year History Of A French Mill, The World’s Oldest Shareholding Company



Many people know the Dutch East India Company as the first modern corporation.

But a group of French millers formed the Société des Moulins de Bazacle, a surprisingly sophisticated and modern shareholding company, centuries before the Dutch. (It has the added distinction of not having started or participated in a series of wars in East Asia.)


People had been milling grain at the Bazacle, a natural ford on the Garonne river in Toulouse since at least 1071.

In 1369, the mill owners who shared a perpetual lease on the river signed a profit-sharing agreement.

And in 1372, after one of their number was about a decade late in repaying a debt to a merchant, what’s likely one of the oldest creditor/shareholder lawsuits of all time led to a corporate structure that lasted centuries...







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