Apple strengthened its hold on the top spot as the world’s biggest company – increasing market capitalisation by 54 per cent. This was a rise of $256bn, and the tech giant is now worth $725bn as the world’s most valuable company.
It also returned $56bn to shareholders this year, but is still nearly twice as big as second place Google ($375bn). Putting its size into further perspective, Apple is also nearly ten times larger than the smallest of the Top 100.
US companies extended first place positioning, with over half (53) of the world’s Top 100 listed companies coming from America. In 2014 it contributed 47 businesses. The world’s biggest firms had a combined value of over $16tn – almost double the market capitalisation in 2009, when PwC first compiled the list.
Clifford Tompsett, capital markets partner at PwC, discussed the increased dominance of the US: “Seven of the top ten and 13 of the top 20 are American. Looking at these companies, the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway and Facebook, it is apparent their success has been driven by innovation and their global reach.”
He added that US corporates have also “more aggressively used their scale and relatively higher valuations to increase their growth through strategic acquisitions”.
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The number of Chinese companies in the Top 100 rose to 11, with fast-growing commerce platform Alibaba sliding straight into the ranks with a market cap of $168bn at IPO, increasing to $205bn at 31 March 2015 – when the study was conducted.
The UK’ s highest ranked company is Royal Dutch Shell in 27th place, followed by HSBC in 36, BP in 59 and GlaxoSmithKline in at 67. Of the eight UK companies, only HSBC had risen in ranking from the 2009 placings.
Tompsett suggested the rest of the world had a way to go before it could think of contributing similar numbers as the US. Citing the advantages of using the scale and higher valuations to increase growth, he added that America’s “risk appetite and drive” meant other countries would have “their work cut out to compete with the US on the same level”.
Energy group Exxon Mobile, Berkshire Hathaway and Microsoft rounded up the rest of the top ten. Making the Top 100 is now trickier, PwC said, with entry to the list requiring a market capitalisation of $85bn. In 2009 – when the global economy was still dealing with the aftermath of the financial crash – having a market valuation of $40bn would be enough to see you make the cut.
Some 85 companies who featured in 2014’s list returned for the latest edition too.
PwC suggested the other BRIC nations and Eurozone nations (contributing one company and 15 companies respectively), “still have to emerge beyond their domestic markets with a global presence”.
Tech and financial sectors were the biggest risers since 2009 – and tech companies have propelled the global Top 100 forward, rising from sixth to second highest by market cap when looked at in business sectors. In 2009, 11 tech firms were worth a combined $997bn, and in 2015 the market cap of the 12 companies mentioned had risen to $2.8tn.
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