A bank is a financial institution licensed by a government. Its primary activities include borrowing and lending money. Many other financial activities were allowed over time. For example banks are important players in financial markets and offer financial services such as investment funds. In some countries such as Germany, banks have historically owned major stakes in industrial corporations while in other countries such as the United States banks are prohibited from owning non-financial companies. In Japan, banks are usually the nexus of a cross-share holding entity known as the zaibatsu. In France, bancassurance is prevalent, as most banks offer insurance services (and now real estate services) to their clients.