The ultimate ownership of a company limited by shares (the most common form of company) can be understood as being divided among its ‘shareholders’: literally, people who own shares. The way in which company shareholdings operate can be very simple or they can be made wilfully complicated. This chapter sets out a brief description of the various forms of shares, the means by which those shares are issued, and the rights that attach to those shares in the form of dividends. For the time being, we are only interested in understanding how a shareholding operates at a basic level, whereas in Chapter 10 on the company’s capital we shall consider more the complexity surrounding the entirety of a company’s capital assets and liabilities, and the legal rules that govern them. We shall begin by asking what it means to be a shareholder.