The preparatory work for the Swedish Companies Act emphasized the importance of an active ownership function in companies. The shareholders are responsible for the supply of venture capital to the corporate sector, but also contribute to the efficiency and rejuvenative power in individual companies and the corporate sector as a whole by not only buying and selling shares, but also by participating in and exercising influence at the shareholders’ meeting. Through their active participation at the shareholders' meeting, shareholders promote a good balance of power between owners, the board and the management of the company.
The ownership structure on the Swedish stock market differs significantly from that in Great Britain and the United States, for example. While most listed companies in those countries exhibit a strongly divided ownership, the ownership of Swedish listed companies is usually dominated by one or a few major shareholders, as is the case in the majority of continental European countries. These owners often exercise their ownership role actively and take particular responsibility for the company, for example through participation in the board.
Swedish society takes a positive view of major shareholders taking particular responsibility for companies by actively participating in the running of them companies from seats on the board. At the same time, strong ownership positions may not be misused to the detriment of the company or other shareholders. The Swedish Companies Act therefore contains several provisions designed to protect minority shareholders, including requirements for a qualified majority for a range of resolutions at shareholders' meetings.