Source: Financial Times Global 500.
The World's 20 Largest Corporations by Market Value, 2013 ($US millions)
There are several ways to measure the size of a
corporation, including its number of employees or its sales. One
is market value (or market capitalization) which considers the
total value of the issued shares of a company. The largest
corporations can have a market value greater than the GDP of
some smaller countries. For instance, Exxon Mobil, PetroChina
and Apple had a market capitalization greater than the GDP of
Greece, estimated to be around $250,000 million in 2012. Significant temporal variations
in the ranking of the world's
largest corporations are observed, which goes with the ebb and flows of the global
economy. For instance, in early 1990s, there were a substantial number
of Japanese banks and industrial conglomerates among the world's largest corporations,
but in the context of Japan's economic decline they are no longer among the
world's largest. In recent
years, energy companies have improved their ranking due to significant
increase in energy prices. American corporations remain among the largest,
but several Chinese corporations are now in the list of the top 20.
The largest enterprises are dominated by three main categories of
Individual retailing, pharmaceutical and agribusiness firms
also appear. The market value of a corporation can evolve due to the
changing perception of the stock market. The financial crisis of 2008 has substantially impacted the market value
and the rank of the largest corporations, pushing many banks out of
the list as their assets were re-priced. It was estimated by the Financial
Times that between 2008 and 2009, the stock market valuation of the
world's 500 largest corporations lost 42% of its value.
- Energy and resources. Oil and mining companies have
remained for decades among the world's largest corporations,
underlining the importance of petroleum and resources in the global economy
and its dynamics based on economies of scale. These activities
are capital intensive.
- Banking and finance. Banks and financial
institutions consistently figure among the world's largest
corporations. They are illustrative of the importance of
financial transactions (e.g. currency exchange) and capital
investments in contemporary economic systems. They tend to
concentrate in large global
cities or at offshore locations.
- Information technologies. Corporations
involved in personal computing devices (computers & cellular
phones) have benefited substantially from the growing prominence
of information technologies in supporting economic activities
and social interactions. Telecommunications firms based on
subscriptions have also thrived.