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Question about German legal form of business

English translation: Geschäftsführer = managing director

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20:53 Jan 30, 2002
German to English translations [PRO]
Bus/Financial
German term or phrase: Question about German legal form of business
I am working on an edit of a translation done by someone else of an excerpt from the Handelsregister.
Under Rechtsverhältnisse, there is:
Gesellschaft mit beschr. Haftung, which is translated as Limited Liability Company.
However, the German text goes on to say "Die Gesellschaft hat einen oder mehrer Geschäftsführer," which is translated as President. The concept of a company having more than one president is strange to me. Can anyone shed light on whether this is common in German business, or if perhaps we are talking about a different business form?
TIA, Beth
Beth Kantus
United States
Local time: 00:02
English translation:Geschäftsführer = managing director
Explanation:
This is the way it is most commonly translated. Some German businesses DO have more than one managing director.

Selected response from:

Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 00:02
Grading comment
Thanks, Werner! Managing director is what I decided to go with. Thanks also to everyone else for their helpful explanations.
Best Regards,
Beth
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
5 +11Geschäftsführer = managing directorWerner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
4 +2director / (general) manager / managing member
Claudia Tomaschek
4 +1executive directorChrista Zeller Thomas
5 -1CEO; CFO; Managing Director; ... depends on specific function when translating to englishDeb Phillips
4 -1The company may have one or several administrators.
swisstell


  

Answers


5 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +11
Geschäftsführer = managing director


Explanation:
This is the way it is most commonly translated. Some German businesses DO have more than one managing director.



Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO)
Local time: 00:02
PRO pts in pair: 238
Grading comment
Thanks, Werner! Managing director is what I decided to go with. Thanks also to everyone else for their helpful explanations.
Best Regards,
Beth

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Lydia Molea: GmbH usually has managing director(s).
4 mins

agree  xxxninasc
10 mins

agree  Ingrid Grzeszik
11 mins

agree  Anja Brito
24 mins

agree  Irene De Han
38 mins

agree  Mats Wiman
40 mins
  -> Wow, thank you all. Especially, thank you, Mats. I am glad we're communicating again!

agree  Deb Phillips
6 hrs

agree  Ralf Lemster: I would tend to add the German term in brackets
9 hrs

agree  Andy Lemminger
10 hrs

agree  Alison Schwitzgebel
11 hrs

agree  Steffen Pollex
16 hrs
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16 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
executive director


Explanation:
Along the lines of "managing" but closer in concept to "CEO".

Christa Zeller Thomas
PRO pts in pair: 108

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Deb Phillips
6 hrs
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17 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
director / (general) manager / managing member


Explanation:
Hallo Beth,

GmbH is the same as Ltd or limited company. Romain further lists "private company limited" or "private company limited by shares" as translation for the German GmbH.

This is what Gabler writes about the function of a "Geschäftsführer":

"gesetzlicher Vertreter (Organ) und verantwortlicher Leiter der GmbH (§ 35 I GmbHG). Der G. braucht nicht Gesellschafter zu sein. - 1. Umfang der gesetzlichen Vertretungsmacht nach außen unbeschränkbar. Mehrere G. können einzel- oder gesamtvertretungsberechtigt sein. Stellvertretende G. unterliegen den gleichen Bestimmungen wie G. (§ 44 GmbHG). Meist wird G. vom Verbot des Selbstkontrahierens gem. § 181 BGB befreit. Dies bedarf einer entsprechenden Satzungsbestimmung, die dies zuläßt. - 2. Die Bestellung des G. erfolgt im Gesellschaftsvertrag oder durch die Gesellschafterversammlung, die auch den Anstellungsvertrag schließt. Prokuristen und Handlungsbevollmächtigte zum gesamten Geschäftsbetrieb kann i. d. R. nur die Gesellschafterversammlung bestellen. - 3. Haftung der G. gegenüber der Gesellschaft bei Obliegenheitsverletzung für den entstandenen Schaden (§ 43 GmbHG). Sie haben jährlich eine Liste der Gesellschafter zum Handelsregister einzureichen und haben für die ordnungsgemäße Durchführung zu sorgen (§§ 40, 41 GmbHG). - 4. Beendigung der Tätigkeit des G. durch Vertragsablauf, Kündigung oder Widerruf (§ 38 GmbHG). Widerruf bei Vorliegen eines wichtigen Grundes (Delikt, Pflichtverletzung, Unfähigkeit) jederzeit möglich und nicht ausschließbar. Bestellung und Widerruf sind unter Überreichung der Urkunden (Gesellschafterbeschlüsse) zum Handelsregister anzumelden (§ 39 GmbHG). - Vgl. auch Arbeitsdirektor, Arbeitsgerichtsbarkeit, Kündigungsschutz."

I think proper translations are: director or general manager. Romain Wörterbuch der Rechts- und Wirtschaftssprache favours director for limited companies.

In your context Geschäftsführer might also mean "Gesellschafter". If this is the case the translation would be "shareholder" or "managing member" (both Romain).

I hope that helps

Cheers
Claudia

Claudia Tomaschek
Local time: 06:02
Native speaker of: German
PRO pts in pair: 602

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  gangels: Inc. in USA, not Ltd.
22 mins
  -> I was mainly relating to British terminology here. I think a British Limited Company is closer to a GmbH than an American Inc. And the American job hierarchy is a lot more complex than the European one.

agree  Kim Metzger: Excellent reference. There's always something to learn.
27 mins

agree  Kaiya J. Diannen: The closest US term would be Limited Partnership - GS could also be a (managing) Partner, only in that sense though
3 hrs
  -> Yes, and the problem is, a GmbH does not necessarily be a partnership it is just a form of legal entity, therefore the use of US terms is very difficult.

agree  Deb Phillips
5 hrs

neutral  Ralf Lemster: Good explanation, but there's no indication that the GF is/are also shareholders
9 hrs

disagree  Andy Lemminger: Sorry, GmbH might be similar to Ltd, it definitely is not the same and a Geschäftsführer of a GmbH can't be a shareholder by definition.
9 hrs
  -> Where did I say that. I said it is a shareholder when it is also a Gesellschafter.

disagree  Alison Schwitzgebel: same as Andy
11 hrs
  -> Please read my answer again, I said the Geschäftsführer is a shareholder when he/she is also a Gesellschafter. That needs to be defined by the context.
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26 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): -1
The company may have one or several administrators.


Explanation:
And the GmbH ought to be translated as
"Company with Limited Liability" a very common type of legal company structure in German and Switzerland.

swisstell
Italy
Local time: 06:02
Native speaker of: German
PRO pts in pair: 3377

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Deb Phillips: Company with Legal Liability is correct-Geschäftsführers have generally done quite a lot to earn their positions so I am inclined to give them the due honor of the term Executive Officer.It is indeed their job, although they do function as administrators.
6 hrs

disagree  Ralf Lemster: This term is used in connection with estates and/or insolvency proceedings
8 hrs

disagree  Alison Schwitzgebel: same as Ralf
11 hrs
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6 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): -1
CEO; CFO; Managing Director; ... depends on specific function when translating to english


Explanation:
There are frequently more than one Geschäftsführer of Austrian companies. Generally, the management of the company may be divided up between areas of expertise so that you have top notch management re: the area of performance, ie technical director responsible for engineering aspects of a company and general chief executive officer dealing with business aspects - finance, legal, etc. Even the "legal counsel" may be a CEO. The directors in this case share all responsibility for management of the company and are joint CEO's. Yu would not regard the technical director as a lesser CEO. In that case, I suppose you could even refer to the business director as CFO but it would be slightly off the mark if not clarified elsewhere in the text. CEO of course stands for Chief Executive Officer. CFO - Chief Financial Officer. Very often companies are spun off from larger companies and general managers/managing directors subordinate to the executive officers receive the chairmanship. Another important element of the Austrian corporate hierarchy is the Prokurist. When one rises in the company, one receives the formal acknowledgement of membership as part of the directorship, with the prokurist, which allows the exercise of more freedom and independence for the prokurist in making strategic corporate decisions. Finally all of these Geschäftsführer are collectively understood as the Vorstand - Executive Committee or Board of Directors composed of Managing Directors and Chairman (Vorstandsvorsitzender). Austrian companies are often smaller than their American counterparts so it is perhaps difficult to draw an exact comparison between the management organizations.

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Note added at 2002-01-31 03:32:41 (GMT)
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EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS - That is the correct translation into English!

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Note added at 2002-01-31 03:44:54 (GMT)
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SORRY THAT IT IS AN AFTERTHOUGHT - EXECUTIVE OFFICER IS ALSO CORRECT- LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY AND PARTNERSHIP ARE NOT THE SAME. MBH - MIT BESCHRAENKTER HAFTUNG - LIMITED LIABILITY-GMBH LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY OR LIMITED COMPANY. I THINK I HAVE ALSO SEEN IT AS COMPANY LIMITED. LIMITED CAN BE ABBREVIATED AS LTD.

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Note added at 2002-01-31 03:47:29 (GMT)
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SORRY! I JUST READ YOUR QUESTION AGAIN. PRESIDENT IS ALSO OK.

Deb Phillips
PRO pts in pair: 77

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
disagree  Alison Schwitzgebel: President isn't ok. It should be managing director.
5 hrs
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