Size matters – but what about ownership?

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Think you know the world’s largest and most powerful companies? A new list in the Financial Times might make you think again.

The FT Non-Public 150, based on McKinsey research, provides an interesting insight into the shadowy world of private and state ownership, ranking the firms by estimated market value. Not surprisingly state-owned oil companies dominate the top of the list – only Japan Post breaks their hold on the top ten. So, who tops them all? Saudi Aramco - worth an estimated $781bn. Compare that to the paltry $454bn market capitalisation of ExxonMobil, which sits atop lists of publicly traded firms.

The exercise makes for fun headlines, but also raises crucial issues over the relative merits of different forms of ownership and the implications for ensuring good corporate governance and maximizing value. Non-public firms are increasingly influential – see the presence of 6 buy-out firms in the top 30 of this list - but it does not mean they necessarily offer better value. See the accompanying FT article for more.


Michael Jarvis

Executive Director, Transparency and Accountability Initiative

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