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China brightens Fortune 500 list

Shi Jing
Updated: Jul 22,2017 10:20 AM     China Daily

The number of Chinese companies on the Fortune 500 list has reached 115 with the addition of 10 first-timers this year. The number has been rising for the last 14 years.

According to the latest Fortune 500 list released on July 20, among the 10 new entrants are locally well-known names such as Anbang Insurance Group, Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings.

Most of the new entrants are from trade and technology sectors. Guangdong-based Country Garden is the only Chinese property company on the list.

The world’s 500 largest companies generated $27.7 trillion in revenues in 2016, or 37 percent of the global GDP. Their total profits were $1.5 trillion.

For the fourth year in a row, retail giant Walmart topped the list with a massive $485 billion in revenue in 2016.

It is followed by three Chinese companies: State Grid, Sinopec Group and China National Petroleum.

Apple Inc is the most profitable company among the 500, with its 2016 fiscal year profit coming in at $45.7 billion (which was down 14.4 percent year-on-year). It is expected to be the first company with a market cap of over $ 1 trillion-its market cap on July 20 was $789.3 billion.

Second to Apple on the profitability list are four major Chinese commercial banks: Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of China.

Italian bank UniCredit reported the biggest loss-$13 billion-among all the finalists. JD, China’s second-largest e-commerce platform, incurred a loss of $570 million last year, the biggest among all the Chinese companies on the Fortune 500 list.

According to Brian O’Keefe, assistant managing director of Fortune magazine, a major trend in this year’s list is the continued weakness in the energy sector. Companies like Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil slid a few spots this year, he said.

There are 33 new companies on the list this year, most of them tech enterprises, said Anne Vandermey, associate editor of Fortune.

“In terms of profit and revenue growth, the technology sector leads both of these numbers,” she said.

In terms of industry and ownership, however, there has not been a substantial change in the Chinese companies entering this year’s list, said Liu Qiao, director of the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University.

“Most of these companies are State-owned companies coming from the financial, energy and raw material sectors,” he said. “Although China is undergoing a transformation from an investment-driven economy to an innovation- and efficiency-driven economy, there aren’t many Chinese innovation-led companies on the Fortune list yet.”

But he also said that the list does reflect the rise of privately-owned companies such as Alibaba and, by extension, the power of the market in the wake of China’s economic transformation.

“Creating value rather than pursuing a larger scale has become the No 1 target of most Chinese companies,” he said.

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