ICBC Repeats Atop New Forbes Global 2000 List; Lufax, Kuaishou Add To Record China Presence

Pedestrians pass in front of a branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in the finance area … [+] District in Toronto. The Beijing-headquartered bank topped the Forbes Global 2000 list of 2021 released today. Photographer: Brent Lewin / Bloomberg

© 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

Fast-growing China has crept into US long-standing leadership and is home to the largest number of billionaires in the world on the Forbes Billionaire List of 2021, released in April. Asia’s largest economy did the same in a new Forbes ranking of 2000 listed companies published around the world, released today.

China, including Hong Kong, has a record 350 members on the latest Global 2000 list, up from 26 from 324 a year ago. The surge was driven by the country’s relatively rapid economic recovery from the Covid pandemic, a buoyant IPO market and growing tech companies. The US continues to have the most companies on the list – 590, but only added two compared to 2020.

State-controlled financial institutions spearheaded China’s performance, highlighting the government’s huge role in their economy. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China was # 1 for the ninth year in a row; No. 4 was another government banker, China Construction Bank (up from No. 2 last year). Ping An Insurance rose from 7th to 6th a year ago, and the Agricultural Bank of China reached 9th place in the top 10, dropping its rank from 5th in 2020.

Internet and e-commerce companies, controlled by many of the richest and most famous billionaire entrepreneurs in the country, have made great strides. Alibaba, whose main founder Jack Ma was largely out of sight after controversial remarks in late 2020, moved into the top 25, ranking 23rd this year up from 31 in 2020. Tencent climbed from 50th to 29th, and just got missed the top 100, ranked 101; last year it was No. 238. The smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi rose from No. 384 to No. 222 and the search engine Baidu from No. 705 to No. 242. Pinduoduo rose from No. 1,649 to No. 864.

Most of China’s winners benefited from the country’s relatively strong economic growth last year. After China’s GDP shrank 6.8% in the first quarter of last year during the biggest impact of the pandemic, it was one of the few to expand for all of 2020, growing 2.3% for the full year. It grew 18.3% year over year in the first quarter of 2021. This is one of the best achievements of an economy that is now considered the second largest in the world. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China benefited from this recovery, with first quarter operating income up 3.8% year over year.

Government-backed financial services companies were responsible for the two biggest debuts in China. The mainland’s highest-ranking newcomer, Lufax Holding, a Ping An Insurance-backed online finance business that ranked 500th following its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange last November. China Bohai Bank was the country’s second-highest debut at 693. The next two newcomers were private secondary companies: Nongfu Spring, the beverage company under the leadership of billionaire Zhong Shanshan, made its debut at 1,065. Kuaishou Technology, the social media platform, reached 1,125.

Further gains from China came from the pharmaceutical industry. Wuxi Apptec, led by Sino-American billionaire Li Ge, rose from # 1,746 to # 1,293; The vaccine manufacturer Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products, of which billionaire Jiang Rensheng is chairman, rose from 1794 to 1310. The solar business also developed well. Tongwei, a pet food supplier specializing in the solar business, with the number 1,243. Nongfu, Kuaishou and Tongwei were among a group of 49 Chinese companies on the 2021 list that didn’t show up last year.

Two notable Chinese companies that didn’t make the list: Telecommunications hardware maker Huawei didn’t appear on Global 2000 because it wasn’t listed. ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, didn’t do this for the same reason.

The Global 2000 list takes into account sales, profits, assets, and market value.

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