Facebook and the $100 billion club

A look at the 41 global companies worth more than $US100 billion shows why the US is still chief global superpower, and why Facebook still has much to envy.

Crikey

One of the most fundamental disagreements between the Left and Right on economic matters comes down to the question of letting private enterprise build wealth and using government taxes to distribute wealth. The extraordinary float of Facebook and the insolvency of Greece are two of the sharpest examples imaginable.

If Facebook was a 100 per cent Greek-owned concern, there would be no problems with the Greek economy because $US104 billion of instant wealth creation enormously expands the size of any pie.

However, the Greek system would never have generated a Facebook because of its financially incompetent governing record, which features ridiculously generous public pensions, enormous tax evasion and union-run restrictive work practices.

All this would be fine, but for the fact that Greece hasn’t produced any international companies of standing to fund its internal largesse. Tourism, shipping and olive growing only goes so far.

While the $US15 trillion in public debt obligations racked up by successive US federal governments is a major problem, there is so much private US wealth and so many successful US multinationals that these liabilities can easily be serviced and repaid.

Facebook’s IPO was a landmark moment for US corporate exceptionalism. Never before has a privately-owned company floated with a start-up valuation exceeding $US100 billion. The hype on CNBC on Friday night was also something to behold. History may one day laugh at this moment as the peak of another bubble that epitomised the irrationality of markets.

But for now, we need to record the moment and see just where Facebook ranks in the league ladder of multinationals as measured by market capitalisation.

For mine, as long as the US has 23 of the 41 global companies worth more than $US100 billion, it will always remain the pre-eminent global super-power.

Bookmark this page folks, as it is an interesting snapshot of global corporate power. And we've included the links to the various Bloomberg pages so you can easily go back and check market capitalisations as they ebb and flow in the years ahead ...

Ranking the 41 global companies worth more than $US100 billion:

1. Apple: US IT, software and hardware giant with market capitalisation of $US495 billion.

2. ExxonMobil: Texas-based energy giant with market capitalisation of $US383 billion.

3. PetroChina: state-controlled Chinese energy is listed on Hong Kong exchange with a market capitalisation of $US271 billion.

4. Microsoft: Seattle-based software giant with market capitalisation of $US249 billion.

5. ICBC: the biggest Chinese bank has a market capitalisation of $US230 billion.

6. IBM: US software and systems giant with a market capitalisation of $US228 billion.

7. China Mobile: largest Chinese mobiles company with a market capitalisation of $US214 billion.

8. Walmart: America and the world's biggest retailer with a market capitalisation of $US209 billion.

9. Google: Silicon Valley internet search and advertising giant with market capitalisation of $US203 billion.

10. General Electric: American industrial icon still running a conglomerate model that has a market capitalisation of $US200 billion.

11. Berkshire Hathaway: Warren Buffett's listed investment company has a market capitalisation of $US199 billion.

12. Chevron: the second most valuable US energy company with a market capitalisation of $197 billion.

13. AT&T: most valuable US telecoms company with a market capitalisation of $195 billion.

14. Nestle: Europe's largest food company, based in Switzerland, with a market capitalisation of $US189 billion.

15. Procter & Gamble: giant US consumer products company with a market capitalisation of $US175 billion.

16. Johnson & Johnson: giant US consumer products company with a market capitalisation of $US174 billion.

17. Coca-Cola: world's biggest soft drink company has a market capitalisation of $170 billion.

18. Pfizer: New York-based drugs giant with a market capitalisation of $169 billion.

19. Wells Fargo: emerged from the GFC as the most valuable US bank with a market capitalisation of $US167 billion.

20. China Construction Bank Corp: only a limited free float given dominant government shareholding but based on Hong Kong listing has a nominal market capitalisation of $US167 billion.

21. BHP Billiton: Melbourne-based but 60 per cent foreign-owned mining giant with a market capitalisation of $US160 billion.

22. Royal Dutch Shell: Europe's biggest energy company has a market capitalisation of $US159 billion.

23. HSBC: banking giant based in Hong Kong but with large British ownership and a market capitalisation of $US149 billion.

24. Samsung: the most valuable South Korean company with a market capitalisation of $US148 billion.

25. Roche: Swiss-based pharmaceutical giant with market capitalisation of $142 billion.

26. Novartis: Swiss-based pharmaceutical company with market capitalisation of $140 billion.

27. Agricultural Bank of China: listed on Hong Kong exchange with market capitalisation of $US137 billion.

28. Toyota: the world's biggest car maker has a market capitalisation of $US133 billion.

29. Intel: US computer chip giant has a market capitalisation of $US132 billion.

30. Oracle: US software giant with market capitalisation of $131 billion.

31. Vodafone: London-based mobiles giant with a market capitalisation of $US129 billion.

32. JP Morgan: strongest Wall Street investment bank with a market capitalisation of $US129 billion even after $US2 billion hedging loss.

33. Petrobras: Brazilian state-controlled oil giant has a market capitalisation of $US123 billion.

34. BP: London-based energy major with market capitalisation of $119 billion.

35. Verizon: US telco with market capitalisation of $US117 billion.

36. Merck: US pharmaceutical giant with market capitalisation of $115 billion.

37. GlaxoSmithKline: largest UK drugs company with market capitalisation of $US112 billion.

38. Gazprom: Russian gas giant has a market capitalisation of $US106 billion.

39. PepsiCo: US drinks giant with a market capitalisation of $US105 billion.

40. Facebook: US social media start-up with market capitalisation of $US104 billion based on $US38 float price.

41. Total: France's biggest oil producer and Europe's No.3 has a market capitalisation of $US103 billion.

This story first appeared on www.crikey.com.au on May 21. Republished with permission.

Related Articles