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CEO Daily: Wednesday, July 22

Later this morning, we publish the Fortune Global 500 – the world’s largest companies ranked by revenue. A few interesting takeaways for your morning reading:


-While a U.S. company – Walmart – still tops the list, for the first time a Chinese company – Industrial & Commercial Bank of China – had the highest profits. There were a total of 98 Chinese companies on the list – up from only 19 ten years ago.


Global 500 revenues totaled $31.2 trillion last year – triple the levels of two decades ago, when we started the list. And the companies employed 65.2 million people, up from 34.5 million two decades ago. Global 500 revenues as a share of the total world economy remain roughly unchanged at 40% compared to 37% two decades ago.


-Japan’s presence continues to shrink on the Global 500, with only 54 companies. In 1995, Japan had 149 companies on the list.


-The U.S. had 128 companies on the list this year, down from a peak of 197 companies in 2002.


-Banks (55), petroleum refiners (38) and automakers/parts suppliers (34) are the three industries with the most companies on the list.


You can see the full list online after 8:30 a.m.


And a correction from yesterday: I said that in Jack Ma’s world, “having a digital marketplace and a digital payment system in the same company still makes some sense.” In fact, Ma separated Alipay from Alibaba Group in 2011, but he still controls both.


Enjoy the day.


Alan Murray

Top News

FCC poised to approve AT&T’s DirecTV bid

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced he would approve AT&T’s $49 billion bid for DirecTV, a move that wasn’t a big surprise but did help address the unresolved issue of how new net neutrality rules would apply to the deal. Approval requires AT&T not to favor DirecTV shows over other content when it comes to broadband data plans and it also requires AT&T to submit regular reports of so-called interconnection agreements that govern ISP’s relations with content providers like Netflix. Fortune

Apple’s shares suffer a setback

While sales of the iPhone’s newest models helped propel another huge quarter for Apple, boosting revenue by 33%, the sales outlook going forward was weaker than Wall Street analysts and investors had anticipated. There is little doubt the iPhone keeps selling well but mystery remains over Apple Watch. Apple didn’t disclose shipments of that gadget and some are worried it hasn’t been selling well. USA Today

Slow PC sales ding Microsoft

Microsoft posted a steep quarterly loss due to a pre-announced charge to cover the cost of thousands of Nokia-related layoffs, as well as a write down of the deal based on more muted expectations for the mobile business going forward. PC sales were also problematic but Microsoft tired to tout some good news. Bing is expected to be profitable in the next fiscal year and Windows 10, which launches on July 29, should spark growth. Fortune

Yahoo’s elephant in the room

In another tech earnings news story, all investors seemed to care about at Yahoo is not how it manages core aspects of its business, but what Yahoo will do with the 15% holding in Internet giant Alibaba. Yahoo is still waiting for a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service as to whether the company will have to pay taxes on the planned spinoff of its Alibaba shares, and Yahoo said while it was making progress, there was no clear decision yet. Fortune

Around the Water Cooler

The scary world of hacked cars

Two highly respected security researchers are next month planning to demonstrate how they have discovered a way to control hundreds of thousands of vehicles remotely. The auto maker criticized the fact that the researchers disclosed the vulnerability publicly. And in an unrelated news story this week, Wired showcased how hackers could take over the controls of a vehicle while in motion. New York Times (subscription required)

What’s next for BP?

BP, which moved to put the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill behind it when it agreed to pay billions to settle most remaining liabilities, is in a bit of a bind. After selling billions in assets to pay for the spill fallout, BP is left with a smaller collection of assets around the globe with many of them presenting challenges. That includes a stalled investment in India, political hurdles in Russia and money-losing shale operations in the U.S. WSJ (subscription required)

Ashley Madison hack exposes Ottowa

One in five Ottawa residents have allegedly subscribed to adulterers’ website Ashley Madison, a website that become the latest high profile target of a cyber attack. Some 189,810 users were registered in Ottawa, a city with a population of about 883,000, making the capital the biggest city for philanderers in Canada and potentially the highest globally per capita. Fortune

An effort to chronicle all art

Verisart, a tech startup, is attempting to chronicle original artworks, prints and books with the hope that down the road it can help sell art digitally. The idea is Verisart will verify an artwork’s authenticity but also have information on who is buying. Both moves benefit artists and collectors. Bloomberg