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Is GDS Holdings Limited's (NASDAQ:GDS) Shareholder Ownership Skewed Towards Insiders?

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·4 min read
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The big shareholder groups in GDS Holdings Limited (NASDAQ:GDS) have power over the company. Institutions often own shares in more established companies, while it's not unusual to see insiders own a fair bit of smaller companies. Warren Buffett said that he likes "a business with enduring competitive advantages that is run by able and owner-oriented people." So it's nice to see some insider ownership, because it may suggest that management is owner-oriented.

GDS Holdings has a market capitalization of US$8.0b, so it's too big to fly under the radar. We'd expect to see both institutions and retail investors owning a portion of the company. Taking a look at our data on the ownership groups (below), it seems that institutions own shares in the company. We can zoom in on the different ownership groups, to learn more about GDS Holdings.

View our latest analysis for GDS Holdings

ownership-breakdown
ownership-breakdown

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About GDS Holdings?

Institutional investors commonly compare their own returns to the returns of a commonly followed index. So they generally do consider buying larger companies that are included in the relevant benchmark index.

GDS Holdings already has institutions on the share registry. Indeed, they own a respectable stake in the company. This can indicate that the company has a certain degree of credibility in the investment community. However, it is best to be wary of relying on the supposed validation that comes with institutional investors. They too, get it wrong sometimes. It is not uncommon to see a big share price drop if two large institutional investors try to sell out of a stock at the same time. So it is worth checking the past earnings trajectory of GDS Holdings, (below). Of course, keep in mind that there are other factors to consider, too.

earnings-and-revenue-growth
earnings-and-revenue-growth

Since institutional investors own more than half the issued stock, the board will likely have to pay attention to their preferences. Hedge funds don't have many shares in GDS Holdings. ST Telemedia is currently the largest shareholder, with 8.5% of shares outstanding. Wei Huang is the second largest shareholder owning 5.4% of common stock, and 12 West Capital Management LP holds about 4.4% of the company stock. Wei Huang, who is the second-largest shareholder, also happens to hold the title of Chief Executive Officer.

After doing some more digging, we found that the top 22 have the combined ownership of 50% in the company, suggesting that no single shareholder has significant control over the company.

Researching institutional ownership is a good way to gauge and filter a stock's expected performance. The same can be achieved by studying analyst sentiments. Quite a few analysts cover the stock, so you could look into forecast growth quite easily.

Insider Ownership Of GDS Holdings

The definition of company insiders can be subjective and does vary between jurisdictions. Our data reflects individual insiders, capturing board members at the very least. Company management run the business, but the CEO will answer to the board, even if he or she is a member of it.

Insider ownership is positive when it signals leadership are thinking like the true owners of the company. However, high insider ownership can also give immense power to a small group within the company. This can be negative in some circumstances.

We can report that insiders do own shares in GDS Holdings Limited. This is a big company, so it is good to see this level of alignment. Insiders own US$430m worth of shares (at current prices). It is good to see this level of investment by insiders. You can check here to see if those insiders have been buying recently.

General Public Ownership

With a 31% ownership, the general public, mostly comprising of individual investors, have some degree of sway over GDS Holdings. This size of ownership, while considerable, may not be enough to change company policy if the decision is not in sync with other large shareholders.

Private Equity Ownership

Private equity firms hold a 8.5% stake in GDS Holdings. This suggests they can be influential in key policy decisions. Sometimes we see private equity stick around for the long term, but generally speaking they have a shorter investment horizon and -- as the name suggests -- don't invest in public companies much. After some time they may look to sell and redeploy capital elsewhere.

Next Steps:

I find it very interesting to look at who exactly owns a company. But to truly gain insight, we need to consider other information, too. Be aware that GDS Holdings is showing 2 warning signs in our investment analysis , you should know about...

If you would prefer discover what analysts are predicting in terms of future growth, do not miss this free report on analyst forecasts.

NB: Figures in this article are calculated using data from the last twelve months, which refer to the 12-month period ending on the last date of the month the financial statement is dated. This may not be consistent with full year annual report figures.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email editorial-team (at) simplywallst.com.

This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. We provide commentary based on historical data and analyst forecasts only using an unbiased methodology and our articles are not intended to be financial advice. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material. Simply Wall St has no position in any stocks mentioned.