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Answered By: Kate Anderson, Business Librarian
Last Updated: Mar 22, 2016     Views: 155

Searching for a private company (not traded on a stock market exchange) can be a little more complex than searching for information on a publicly traded company. This is often because private companies are not required to submit the same tax forms and paperwork as public companies. In addition, they have fewer reporting obligations than publicly traded companies; for example, they are not required to publish their financial statements, annual reports, or other year-end summaries. Not sure if you have a public or private company – scroll to the bottom of this page for help!!

When you’re researching a company, always start with the company’s website. There is often a surprising amount of information housed directly within a company’s website; just be sure to click a variety of pages like: “About us”, “History”, “Mission”, “Values”, etc.

Next, several of our databases provide detailed private & public company information (including Annual Reports, SWOT analyses, financial statements, executive/board information, history, and more):

Mergent Online: Click on the D & B Private Company Database box to search for privately held companies.

Hoover’s:  To search for a company, click on Advanced Search. Type your company's name into the Company/organization search box and press Search.

Trying to determine the value of a private company? Visit Stanford University Development Research department's page on determining value for a nice overview and advice.

Also, consider searching the general business databases for news articles and more information about your company.

Business Source Complete via EBSCO

Business via ProQuest

Regional Business News via EBSCO

If you’re not sure whether you’re researching a public or private company, there are a few things you can do:

Start (once again) by looking at the company’s website; often if they’re publicly traded, they will include information about the stock exchange on which their shares are sold. Also try using Bloomberg’s Business Symbol Look Up. Type the company’s name into the “Enter a Symbol or Company Name” box in the Public Company tab.  If no results appear, you can be pretty sure you’re looking at a private company. However, you can also double-check by clicking the Private Company tab, and typing your company’s name there. If information now appears about your company, you’re likely looking at a private company.