The ownership of a corporation is partitioned into shares. A business may declare different types (or classes) of shares, each having distinctive ownership rules, privileges, or share values. Common stock typically has voting rights that can be exercised in corporate decisions. Preferred stock typically does not have voting rights but is legally entitled to receive a certain level of dividend payments before any dividends can be issued to other shareholders. Convertible preferred stock is preferred stock that includes an option for the holder to convert the preferred shares into a fixed number of common shares, usually anytime after a predetermined date. Additional shares may subsequently be authorized by the existing shareholders and issued by the company. Ownership of shares may be documented by issuance of a stock certificate. A stock certificate is a legal document that specifies the number of shares owned by the shareholder, and other specifics of the shares, such as the par value if any or the class of the shares.
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