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The Combine Honnete Over Advancer Mercantiles or CHOAM essentially controls all economic affairs across the cosmos, although it relies upon the Guild for transport across space due to the Guild's monopoly on faster-than-light travel.
CHOAM touched almost all products the Guild will transport, from art forms to technology and of course melange. Many Houses depended on CHOAM profits, and an enormous proportion of those depended on melange. Most economic ventures were conducted through CHOAM, in which the Imperial House, the Landsraad, and Bene Gesserit and the Spacing Guild all had a stake.
CHOAM directorships were the real evidence of political power in the Imperium, passing with the shifts of voting strength within the Landsraad as it balanced itself against the Emperor and his supporters. Directorship in the CHOAM was the key to wealth, each noble House dipping from the company's coffers whatever it could under this power.
The corporation's management and board of directors are controlled by the Padishah Emperor and the Landsraad (with the Spacing Guild and the Bene Gesserit as silent partners). Because of its control of inter-planetary commerce, CHOAM is the largest single source of wealth in the Old Empire; as such, influence in CHOAM (through partisans within it and control of directorships) is the central goal of political maneuvering, both to receive dividends and also (it is implied) to skim off profits.
The structure of CHOAM is similar to that of a publicly-held corporation. It consists of shareholders, and, as in a public company, major shareholders are given directorships to lead in the board of directors. In this case, however, all shareholders are nobles from the Landsraad, which consists of the Minor Houses, the Great Houses and the Imperial House. The Great Houses predictably hold the directorships of the company, but the Emperor is able to give out directorships and revoke directorships at whim. This strains the analogy between CHOAM directors and real-life shareholders: Individuals can be removed from a board of directors, but this does not typically involve revoking their stock.
During the rule of Elrood IX, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen had a temporary CHOAM directorship. When Gaius Helen Mohiam wanted to breed with him, she threatened him with a full-scale Guild bank audit of his activities and revocation of his temporary CHOAM directorship.
When the 81st Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV after news that project Amal was almost complete, the purpose of this campaign was to prevent any Great House from resisting the use of Amal as a Spice Melange alternative once it was complete. Half the captured spice was to go to the Spacing Guild and the other half would go to CHOAM as a reward for their cooperation. The war eventually ended in disaster for the Imperial House as Amal was never completed to perfection.
During the meeting where House Vernius was restored in the Landsraad, representatives of Zanovar and House Taligari were present at the humilliation ceremony where Shaddam IV was forced to accept, and almost obey, the advice of the CHOAM, the Spacing Guild, and the Great Houses. He was forced to take on several CHOAM, Spacing Guild, and Landsaraad advisors, and his own Sardaukar lost faith in him.
God Emperor and AfterwardsEdit
Under the God Emperor Leto Atreides II, CHOAM experienced a reduction influence and power, just as every other organization did under his reign. CHOAM survived in the regions of the Old Imperium during the Scattering and during the Return of the Honored Matres.
When the Honored Matres attacked and destroyed Rakis with their super-weapon Obliterators, Keen was buried under a mountain of slag. Over two decades later, a CHOAM expedition to salvage some of the artifacts from the buried Priesthood complex yielded few rewards, although Guriff and his scavengers stayed behind to keep searching.
When Khrone lead the infiltration of the Old Empire by Face Dancers, Enhanced Dancers had already replaced many leaders in CHOAM and on the foundry worlds of Richese and Ix and de-stabilized the war effort against the Machines. He tricked the Ixians into accepting the secretly built mathematical compilers and introduced the device to CHOAM, the Guild, and the New Sisterhood. The device de-stabilized the Guild, as Khrone took advantage of the ever widening chasm between the Administrator branch and the Navigator branch of the organization.
When the Face Dancers replaced the leadership of the Administrator branch of the Guild, the Honored Matres, the Bene Gesserit, CHOAM, and key leaders throughout humanity reached a point appointed by Erasmus; Khrone and the Enhanced Dancers rose up and killed the Tleilaxu Eldership, including Burah, replaced them with Enhanced Dancers, and kept only the Scribe Uxtal alive.