Minority interest is an item on a company's consolidated balance sheet which refers to non-controlling interest held by outside investors in one of the company's subsidiaries. Non-controlling interest refers to ownership of less than 50% of the voting shares.
For example: Suppose Altria owns 80% of the shares in Kraft Foods. Altria would report Kraft as a subsidiary and account for the company in its consolidated balance sheet. However, since Alria does not own 100% of the company, it would have to list the remaining 20% as a minority interest.
Payments made to minority shareholders are reported in the income statement of the holding company, and the value of the minority interest stake is reported as either a liability or equity in holding company's balance sheet.