What do the five biggest businesses in the world have in common? The amount of annual revenue a business generates is one measure of how big a business is. Judging by total revenue, the secret of the largest businesses appears to be oil. Four of the top five businesses are in the petroleum industry. One retailer completes the list of the top five. These five businesses are household names and their actions and decisions influence millions of lives across the globe.
Walmart Stores Inc. is the largest business in the world. It has the highest revenue of any public corporation and is also the largest private employer in the world, with over 2 million employees. The company has stores in 15 different countries, including Canada, China, Germany, and others. In addition to its well-known Walmart supermarkets, the company runs the Sam’s Club chain of bulk stores. In other countries its stores are known by other names. Walmex in Mexico is one example. Walmart was founded in 1962 by Sam Walton. His descendants and relatives continue to control a significant portion of the company, holding 48% of its shares. The company’s headquarters is located in Bentonville, Ark.
2. Royal Dutch Shell
The first of four petroleum companies on the list, The Royal Dutch Shell PLC is the second-largest business in the world. Royal Dutch Shell has operations in over 90 different countries. It operates on every continent except Antarctica. The company was started in 1907 by a merger of two oil companies, one British and one Dutch. The ‘shell’ in the company’s name comes from the family business of two of the British founders, Marcus Samuel and Samuel Samuel. Their father was involved in the seashell business. The company is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands. It has an American subsidiary, Shell Oil Company, headquartered in Houston, Texas.
3. Exxon Mobil
Exxon Mobil Corp is the second petroleum company on the list. It was formed in 1999 by the merger of two earlier oil companies, Exxon and Mobil. Its current oil reserves are estimated at 72 billion barrels, an amount that is expected to last for at least 14 years. Exxon Mobil is also the largest oil refiner in the world. It is headquartered in Irving, Texas, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. It produces approximately 3% of all of the oil produced in the world. The history of the company is long and complex. Both Exxon and Mobil trace their roots all the way back to John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil company. Rex Tillerson is the current CEO of the company.
Formerly known as British Petroleum, BP PLC is the number three petroleum company in the world and the fourth-biggest business in the world. BP is headquartered in London. It operates in over 80 different countries all across the globe. Its largest division is BP America, which is headquartered in Houston, Texas. BP has proven oil reserves of over 18 billion barrels. The company has gained notoriety over the years because of its involvement in several environmental disasters, including the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The company is attempting to make amends for past environmental problems by manufacturing solar panels.
The sole Asian company in the top five, Sinopec began public stock trading in 2000. It is traded on the Shanghai, Hong Kong, and New York stock exchanges. The company is headquartered in Beijing. In addition to its oil operations, the company also has interests in chemicals and technology development. In the past decade it has increased the scale of its operations in Africa. Sinopec is the largest company in China and is a subsidiary of Sinopec Group, which is owned by the Chinese government. Like BP, the company has a history of causing environmental problems. In 2004 it destroyed gorilla habitat in Loango National Park, Gabon.