t’s been a rollercoaster of a year for global markets: Stocks saw both major gains and losses as volatility ticked upwards, trade tensions between the United States and China heated up, and many companies got a boost from new American corporate tax legislation. CBLs 17th annual ranking of the world’s largest public companies is a reflection of the state of the global economy today: who’s on top, who’s growing and who’s seen better days.
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China took the top spot again for the 7th year in a row. This state-owned financial powerhouse oversees more than $4 trillion in assets and employs nearly half a million people. The financial sector overall had a good year, too: The rest of China’s “Big Four” banks all made the top ten, and JPMorgan Chase climbed up to the second spot due to rising profits thanks in part to major tax cuts.
Of the 61 countries represented on the list, the United States is home to the largest number, 575 companies. China and Hong Kong were next with 309, followed by Japan with 223. The breakdown looks very different than it did when Forbes first published the Global 2000 in 2003. That year, the United States contributed 776 companies while China and Hong Kong had just 43.
2019’s list saw a few notable shakeups: AT&T paid $85 billion for Time Warner in June 2018 and CVS Health acquired insurance giant Aetna for $70 billion a few months later, among others. Lyft was also added to the list after one of several major IPOs.
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