Could anyone tell me what the difference between subsidiaries and branches is? I know they are both divisions owned or controlled by another company but in our law in terms of their independence from the mother-company (e.g. own legal personality or distinctpatrimony bank accounts) they are different. Does this distinction apply in English, too?
I think of a "branch" as being an office location. Banks have branches - offices entirely owned by them - in many towns.
A subsidiary is another company, but it's owned by the larger company.
For example, a company that sells men's clothing may decide to buy a company that rents evening wear. The rental company will keep its own name, but will be wholly owned by the clothing company. It becomes a subsidiary. Or, a company that rents evening wear may have huge dry cleaning operations. They may decide that they will accept dry cleaning from the general public as an extra source of revenue, so they create a subsidiary company to handle the dry cleaning business.
Thanks for your helpful answer. I think I understand. Subsidiaries, even owned by the larger company, are separate entities with distinct existence and a higher degree of independence while branches are just some office location like a representative office under total control of the mother company.