Changing fortunes ... the annual list reveals the extraordinary rise of China’s biggest companies Image: REUTERS/Jason Lee
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The growth of Chinese business is the most striking feature of the 2016 Fortune Global 500 list, with more than 100 of the world’s biggest companies now headquartered in China.
Only the United States has more companies on the list, which ranks companies on the size of their revenue.
The changing map
While Walmart maintains its place at the top of the list, China power giant State Grid jumps from seventh place last year to the number two spot this year. It is followed by oil giants China National Petroleum Corp and Sinopec Group, in third and fourth place, respectively. Europe’s Royal Dutch Shell completes the top five.
That China has three of the top five places represents a stunning success for the country.
A map showing where the top 500 global companies are based shows the US, Europe and China as the three dominant seats of power.
Fortune 500 global companies
Among the 13 Chinese companies that make their debut on the list in 2016 are three home builders: China Vanke Co, Dalian Wanda Group and Evergrande Real Estate Group, which all benefited from the property-market recovery in China last year after the government loosened restrictions on home purchases.
Ranked at 366th, China’s second-largest online retailer, JD.com Inc, also entered the list for the first time.
Out in front
Walmart has dominated the Fortune Global 500 list for two decades. The US retail giant employs 2.3 million people and has an annual revenue of nearly half a trillion dollars, generating $14.9 billion in profit.
Walmart ranking since 1995
A monopoly on power
China’s State Grid is the world’s largest utility company and, with a widespread monopoly, is likely to stay that way. State Grid’s spending on solar farms, wind and alternative energy sources has counted in the tens of billions dollars lately, driven by China’s unprecedented push into alternatives.
Back in 1995 State Grid did not feature at all in the Fortune Global 500, but since 2004 it has been climbing its way up the top 50 companies.
State Grid ranking since 1995
Apple is another company whose fortunes have taken a dramatic turn for the better. It appeared in the Fortune Global 500 briefly in the late 1990s before taking almost a decade off. Since 2005 it has experienced an extraordinarily resilient climb to number nine.
Apple ranking since 1995
The drag factors
Forbes says the total revenue from the top 500 global companies fell 11.5% to $27.6 trillion from last year as the US dollar surged, China's economy slowed and the global oil price collapsed dramatically.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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