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English definition of “shell”

shell

noun [C]     /ʃel/ (also shell company, also shell corporation) FINANCE, LAW
a company that has been created to hide illegal activities: The shell advertised bonds for sale to investors, but this offering was essentially a fraud because no bonds ever existed. She played a vital role in the bribery scheme by creating a shell company to receive a flow of illicit payments.
a company that has been officially created so that it can be sold to someone who does not want to have to create the company themselves: Most holding company reorganizations involve a merger between the pre-existing company and a shell company.
a company that was active in the past, but that now does little or no business, that someone buys so they do not have to create a new company: Maypole was created out of a shell company called Octagon.
(Definition of shell noun from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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