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Forbes’ Global 2000: The world’s largest public companies

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Wiping out years of rising market values in a matter of weeks, the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is reflected in Forbes’ 18th annual Global 2000 list.

Cumulative profits were down 2.9% and market values dropped more than 4% since last year for the world’s 2,000 largest public companies.

Economies will continue to struggle as they try to reopen without a coronavirus vaccine.

Filings in the first quarter revealed catastrophic losses – or, at best, mild gains – and balance sheets dating back to 2019 have been impacted by US tariffs on Chinese imports.

The relationship between the two economic superpowers will no doubt continue to shape the global economy throughout the pandemic and beyond.

The past few months have been particularly hard for airlines, seeing demand drop lower than after 9/11 attacks back in 2001. American Airlines, as an example, fell from number 372 on the list to number 967 after it lost a massive US$2.2 billion in the first quarter.

American airlines

But not all companies have suffered at the hands of the coronavirus pandemic.

CVS, General Electric, Raytheon Technologies, Cigna, China Life Insurance and GlaxoSmithKline all climbed at least 50 spots in the past year, enough to move into the top 100.

The biggest players in ecommerce – Amazon, Alibaba and Walmart – also moved up the list thanks to a boom in online shopping.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China remains in the top spot for the eighth straight year with more than US$4.3 trillion in assets.

JPMorgan Chase is the largest US company at number 3, which fell one spot from last year, while China’s big four state-owned banks all landed in this year’s top 10.

These are the world’s 10 largest public companies:

  1. ICBC | China | Market Value: US$242.3 billion
  2. China Construction Bank | China | Market Value: US$203.8 billion
  3. JPMorgan Chase | US | Market Value: US$291.7 billion
  4. Berkshire Hathaway | US | Market Value: US$455.4 billion
  5. Agricultural Bank of China | China | Market Value: US$147.2 billion
  6. Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) | Saudi Arabia | Market Value: US$1,684.8 billion
  7. Ping An Insurance Group | China | Market Value: US$187.2 billion
  8. Bank of America | US | Market Value: US$208.6 billion
  9. Apple | US | Market Value: US$1,285.5 billion
  10. Bank of China | China | Market Value: US$112.8 billion
Saudi Aramco
Saudi Aramco's record breaking IPO rose by US$3.8 billion

The largest IPO of 2019, Saudi Aramco, had its debut at number 5, while notable newcomers Zoom and Slack, which both IPOed last year, made their inaugural appearance virtually overnight on the Global 2000.

Instantly benefiting from new work-from-home protocols around the world, both companies have proved indispensable throughout the pandemic.

For the eighth year in a row, the number of Chinese companies on the Global 2000 rose to 324, narrowing the gap on long-time leader the US, with 588 companies, and lengthening the distance from Japan in third place, with 217 of the world’s largest public companies.

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