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By looking at the institutional ownership of a company I see big players in the ETF/Mutual fund Markets. So my question is, are these holdings due to ETFs or instead "private" investments of public companies (money from Vanguard that do not belong to Mutual Funds/ETFs)? Are these holdings in the end retail investors who acquire ETFs/Mutual funds?

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are these holdings due to ETFs or instead "private" investments of public companies (money from Vanguard that do not belong to Mutual Funds/ETFs)?

ETFs and mutual funds would be a large part of this, but they're not the only "institutional investors". Pension funds and endowments would be other examples. Basically anything other than individual investors.

I doubt that Vanguard itself has sizable stock investments - most likely it is referring to funds that Vanguard manages.

Are these holdings in the end retail investors who acquire ETFs/Mutual funds?

Well, yes, retail investors will own unis of ETFs and funds, but they will also be owned by other institutional investors. A pension fund, for example, may own units of a passive index fund rather than individual company stocks.

However, the stocks held by these funds are not "owned" by the owners of the fund. Meaning that the fund itself is the "owner" for purposes of voting rights, dividends, etc. The fund may indirectly pass these dividends on to the owners of the fund, but that decision is made by the fund.

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