As of 1 March 2012, a total of 1,113 registered SEs were listed in the ETUI’s European Company (SE) Database (ECDB), 120 more than at the time of the previous update (1 December 2011). The main trends remained the same. Only four (4) recently established companies have been identified as being ‘normal’ (in the sense of having both employees and business activities. Seventy-six (76) of the new establishments were categorised in the ECDB as ‘UFO’s. The Czech Republic continues to ‘mass produce’ SEs: sixty-one (61) of the 76 new ‘UFO’ companies are from this country underlining again the problem of available information on employee figures after their setting-up as shelf SEs.

In terms of the current distribution, the situation did not change a lot: most of the companies are active legal entities, with operations, but less than one fifth are today known to have employees (however their number is likely to be significantly higher, for details see newsletter). More details can be found in the newsletter attached.

In brief, summarising the December 2011 and March 2012 figures:


December 2011

March 2012



















Looking behind the numbers, a number of considerations must be kept in mind in order to interpret the overall number of SEs properly and to understand the needs of the various categories.

  • National registers do not provide information on employee figures. In many cases, such data is simply not accessible or available in other ways, also e.g. because the SE Regulation does not oblige companies to deliver such information when registering the SE. Therefore, in reality the number of ‘normal’ companies can be expected to be higher.
  • Some of the companies are active and operating, but without employees (‘empty’ SEs) – from an employee involvement perspective they become relevant when employees are “transferred” into the company.
  • Some of the registered SEs are inactive (‘shelf’/’shell’ companies) – as there is no workforce at the moment of foundation, the SE can be registered without the need to negotiate an agreement of employee involvement. However, once the SE starts having employees, the negotiations have to be caught up.
  • The high number of ‘shelf’/’shell’ companies in the Czech Republic leads to a high number of ‘UFO’ companies. Even years later, ‘activated’ companies may have only a few employees or still none and it is almost impossible to track them after they are sold.

Focus: Transfers of seat

Compared to the total number of SEs, the number of completed transfers of seat is not outstanding. From NL, LU and DE relatively many companies moved to different EU member states. The motivation behind the transfer is not always known, likely tax reasons and / or company restructuring issues are motives in a number of cases.