The 20 Biggest Companies in the World (2019)

Company logos of Bank of America, Royal Dutch Shell, Volkswagen Group and Apple Clockwise: USA Today / Financial Times / Quartz / Automotive News

If you’ve ever wondered just where exactly your employer sits in the grand food chain of corporate Darwinism, then the Forbes Global 2000 list might make for interesting reading.

To save you the trouble, we’ve compiled a list of the largest, and condensed them into one easy-to-digest read – these are the 20 biggest companies in the world, according to Forbes.

20. Verizon Communications

Industry: Telecommunications

Headquarters: New York City, New York, US

Employees: 144,500 (2019)

Market value: $239.7 billion (£189 billion)

Originally founded in 1983 and rebranded following a 2000 merger with GTE, Verizon Communications is the second largest telecommunications provider in the US, despite criticisms of its attempts to distort the FCC’s net neutrality rules. It acquired AOL and Yahoo! in 2015 and made profits of around $15.5 billion (£12.2 billion) in the last reporting year.

19. Chevron Corporation

Industry: Oil and gas

Headquarters: San Ramon, California, US

Employees: 51,900 (2018)

Market value: $228.3 billion (£180 billion)

A successor company of John D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, Chevron originally made its fortune in the original California oil fields of the late 19th Century, as well as in Saudi Arabia during the 1930s. In 2000, it acquired fellow oil giant Texaco in a $45 billion (£35.5 billion) deal, while it recently announced plans to acquire another Texan oil firm, Anadarko, for $33 billion (£26 billion).

18. Volkswagen Group

Industry: Automotive

Headquarters: Wolfsburg, Germany

Employees: 302,550 (2018)

Market value: $92 billion (£72.6 billion)

Despite a chequered pre- and post-war history, as well as a massive emissions scandal in 2015 that saw the company pay a $2.8 billion (£2.2 billion) criminal fine, Volkswagen (literally ‘people’s car’ in German) has seemingly gone from strength to strength. Manufacturing cars under the Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, SEAT and Škoda names (among others), the group made profits of $14 billion (£11 billion) in the last reporting year.

17. Alphabet

Industry: Conglomerate

Headquarters: Mountain View, California, US

Employees: 98,770 (2018)

Market value: $863.2 billion (£680.8 billion)

The parent company of internet search giant Google, Alphabet was officially established in 2015 as a means of allowing greater autonomy and transparency for the company’s other interests, such as Calico, Sidewalk Labs and Chronicle. It made profits of $30.7 (£24.2 billion) billion in the last reporting year and is still run by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

16. Microsoft Corporation

Industry: Technology

Headquarters: Redmond, Washington, US

Employees: 134,950 (2018)

Market value: $946.5 billion (£746.6 billion)

Credited with revolutionising computer software and bringing it to the masses, Microsoft remains a highly influential player in the tech game. Although legendary cofounder Bill Gates is no longer in charge, the company is clearly still in good hands; it made profits of $33.5 billion (£26.4 billion) last year.

15. Toyota Motor

Industry: Automotive

Headquarters: Toyota City, Japan

Employees: 370,870 (2019)

Market value: $176.6 billion (£139.3 billion)

The largest company in Japan, Toyota Motor is the first manufacturer to produce over 10 million cars in a single year, although Volkswagen has since superseded the company’s production rate. It is, however, the market leader in electric hybrid vehicles, making profits of $17.2 billion (£13.6 billion) last year.

14. Citigroup

Industry: Financial / Banking

Headquarters: New York City, New York, US

Employees: 204,000 (2018)

Market value: $161.1 billion (£127 billion)

Considered one of the top banks in the US – both in terms of size and importance – Citigroup has seen off dozens of criticisms, a 2008 government bailout and numerous scandals to retain a strong position in 2019. It holds assets to the tune of around $1.96 trillion (£1.55 trillion), with subsidiaries located across the globe.

13. Samsung Electronics

Industry: Consumer Electronics

Headquarters: Suwon, South Korea

Employees: 360,370 (2018)

Market value: $272.4 billion (£214.9 billion)

A major manufacturer of consumer electronics, semiconductors and electronic parts, Samsung Electronics – a subsidiary of the diverse Samsung conglomerate – is the world’s largest producer of smartphones, mobile phones and televisions. The company made profits of around $39.9 billion (£31.5 billion) in the last year.

12. AT&T

Industry: Telecommunications

Headquarters: Dallas, Texas, US

Employees: 273,210 (2018)

Market value: $233.3 billion (£184 billion)

The second US telecommunications giant on this list, AT&T (the American Telegraph and Telephone Company) is another offshoot of the 19th Century Bell System, a communications monopoly that was later disbanded by the US government. Despite numerous criticisms for its perceived security and customer privacy shortfalls, the company’s purchase of media giant Time Warner in 2016 has helped its profits – $19.4 billion (£15.3 billion) in the last year – soar.

11. ExxonMobil

Industry: Oil and gas

Headquarters: Irving, Texas, US

Employees: 71,000 (2018)

Market value: $343.4 billion (£270.9 billion)

Another descendant of Standard Oil, ExxonMobil – so branded following a 1998 merger – is one of the largest oil companies in the world, attracting profits of $20.8 billion (£16.4 billion) in the last year. The business is not without its critics, though, particularly given its track record of climate change denial and environmental damage.

10. Wells Fargo

Industry: Financial / Banking

Headquarters: San Francisco, California, US

Employees: 258,700 (2018)

Market value: $214.7 billion (£169.4 billion)

Founded by Henry Wells and William Fargo (two of the three cofounders of American Express) in 1852, Wells Fargo is now one of the largest banks in the US and, indeed, the world. Despite – like other banks – undergoing numerous criticisms and scandals in recent years, it currently holds assets of around $1.9 trillion (£1.5 trillion).

9. Royal Dutch Shell

Industry: Oil and gas

Headquarters: The Hague, Netherlands / London, UK

Employees: 82,000 (2018)

Market value: $264.9 billion (£209 billion)

The largest company in the world outside the US or China, Royal Dutch Shell is one of the big oil ‘supermajors’, active in every stage of the oil and gas industry cycle, from exploration and production through to refining, distribution and power generation. It attracted profits of around $23.3 billion (£18.4 billion) in the last year.

8. Bank of China

Industry: Financial / Banking

Headquarters: Beijing, China

Employees: 311,000 (2018)

Market value: $143 billion (£112.8 billion)

The first of several Chinese companies in the top 10, the state-owned Bank of China is more internationally focused than its internal competitors, opening numerous branches across the globe. This has helped it amass assets worth a staggering $3.1 trillion (£2.44 trillion), while it made profits of around $27.5 billion (£21.7 billion) in the last year.

7. Ping An Insurance

Industry: Financial Services

Headquarters: Shenzhen, China

Employees: 376,900 (2018)

Market value: $220.2 billion (£173.7 billion)

Founded in 1988, Ping An (literally ‘safe and well’) is one of the top global insurance brands in the world, as well as one of the biggest investment and asset management firms. It owns assets worth around $1 trillion (£789 billion), raking in profits of $16.3 billion (£12.9 billion) in the last year.

6. Apple

Industry: Technology

Headquarters: Cupertino, California, US

Employees: 132,000 (2018)

Market value: $961.3 billion (£758.4 billion)

One of the most iconic and influential consumer brands in the world, Apple is, along with Amazon, Google and Facebook, widely considered as a cornerstone of tech’s "Big Four". Responsible for a whole wealth of hugely popular software and hardware products, including the iPhone and the Mac, Apple’s customer base is notoriously loyal; consumers helped account for a staggering $59.4 billion (£46.9 billion) in profits in the last year.

5. Bank of America

Industry: Financial / Banking

Headquarters: Charlotte, North Carolina, US

Employees: 204,490 (2018)

Market value: $287.3 billion (£226.7 billion)

Able to trace its original roots all the way back to 1784, the Bank of America Corporation is the second largest US banking institution on this list. With assets worth $2.4 trillion (£1.89 trillion) and responsibility for an estimated 11% of US bank deposits, it certainly isn’t short of market value.

4. Agricultural Bank of China

Industry: Financial / Banking

Headquarters: Beijing, China

Employees: 473,690 (2018)

Market value: $197 billion (£155.4 billion)

The second of China’s Big Four banks on this list, the Agricultural Bank of China – founded in 1951 – boasts around 320 million retail customers and around 2.7 million corporate clients. It also boasts assets worth around $3.3 trillion (£2.6 trillion), making profits in the last year of around $30.9 billion (£24.4 billion).

3. China Construction Bank

Industry: Financial / Banking

Headquarters: Beijing, China

Employees: 345,971 (2018)

Market value: $225 billion (£177.5 billion)

The third of the Big Four, China Construction Bank (CCB) is a state-owned enterprise and has regularly been ranked as one of the most powerful and valuable companies in the world since its inception in 1954. It holds assets worth nearly $3.4 trillion (£2.68 trillion), as well as profits of nearly $31 billion (£24.5 billion) in the last year.

2. JPMorgan Chase

Industry: Financial / Banking

Headquarters: New York City, New York, US

Employees: 265,100 (2018)

Market value: $368.5 billion (£290.8 billion)

The largest bank in the US, JPMorgan Chase is the product of an amalgamation between numerous commodities. Despite dozens of criticisms and scandals over the last few decades, including its complicity in the Bernard Madoff fraud case, the bank is well placed to thrive. It holds assets worth around $2.7 trillion (£2.13 trillion), raking in profits of around $32.7 billion (£25.8 billion) in the last year.

1. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)

Industry: Financial / Banking

Headquarters: Beijing, China

Employees: 453,050 (2018)

Market value: $305.1 billion (£240.7 billion)

With nearly half a million employees, a staggering $4 trillion (£3.15 trillion) worth of assets, and last year profits of around $45.2 billion (£35.7 billion), it’s little surprise that ICBC takes the top spot as the biggest company in the world. Founded in 1984 and majority owned by the Chinese Central Government, it also owns foreign subsidiaries, specifically in Hong Kong, Canada, Macau and Turkey.

As if the numbers on the list weren’t mind-boggling enough, the combined market value of these 20 companies is just short of $6.8 trillion (£5.36 trillion) – a figure that’s larger than the GDP of Germany and the United Kingdom combined.

As you can see from a top five that consists entirely of banks, there is plenty of money to be made in the banking and financial sectors, too – something to consider if you’re trying to decide on a career!

Do you work for any of these companies? Let us know what it’s like in the comments section below!

 

This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 31 October 2017.

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