A holding company is a company or firm that owns other companies' outstanding stock. The term usually refers to a company which does not produce goods or services itself; rather, its purpose is to own shares of other companies.
Holding companies allow the reduction of risk for the owners and can allow the ownership and control of a number of different companies. In the United States, 80% or more of stock, in voting and value, must be owned before tax consolidation benefits such as tax-free dividends can be claimed.
In the United States, Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffett) is the largest publicly-traded holding company and owns numerous insurance companies, manufacturing businesses, retailers, and other companies.
NV Energy is a also holding company based in Las Vegas, Nevada. The company is a utility which generates, transmits and distributes electric service in northern and southern Nevada, including the Las Vegas Valley. The company obtains the majority of its electricity from natural gas-fired sources.
NV Energy also provides natural gas service in the Reno–Sparks metropolitan area of northern Nevada. NV Energy serves about 1.5 million customers and over 40 million tourists annually.
MidAmerican Energy is also a holding company, and it is controlled by Berkshire Hathaway, which is controlled by Warren Buffett, who is buying NV Energy for about $5.6 billion in cash.
The 400 richest Americans can buy and sell anything they want to...such as holding companies that own other holding companies. (I hope our electric bill doesn't go up again!)
*A list of major shareholders and investment funds of Berkshire Hathaway Inc (Class A BRK.A stock) at Morning Star. (Berkshire Hathaway's market cap: $279.05 billion - Warren Buffet's net worth: $46 billion)