China Takes Lead in Fortune Global 500: CEO Daily

July 22, 2019, 10:37 AM UTC

Good morning.

The new Fortune Global 500 list goes live this morning, and marks an important world power transition. The number of companies on the list based in China, including the 10 in Taiwan, reached a record 129—exceeding for the first time the number of companies based in the U.S. (121).

The Fortune Global 500 ranks companies on size, and of course, size is not everything. Many of the largest Chinese companies are state-owned enterprises which owe their heft to government-supported monopolies in the world’s most populous market, and aren’t necessarily the world’s most dynamic companies. Nevertheless, the list signals a significant global power shift. Ten years ago, there were only 43 Chinese companies on the list. Twenty years ago, there were just eight. And a boatload of fast-growing private Chinese companies are rapidly working their way up the ranks.

Some other Fortune Global 500 facts:

Fortune Global 500 companies generated $32.7 trillion in revenues, up 9% from the previous year, and equal to more than one-third of the world’s GDP.

-There are only 14 female CEOs on the Fortune Global 500, up from 12 last year. That goes to 15 in September, when Julie Sweet takes the helm at Accenture.

-Walmart claimed the top spot on the Fortune Global 500 for the sixth consecutive year, and for the fourteenth time since 1995.

-Newcomer Saudi Aramco (No. 6) netted $111 billion in profits, nearly double Apple’s (No. 11) earnings, ending Apple’s three-year reign as the Fortune Global 500’s most profitable company.

You can find the full list here. Also, be sure to  read the accompanying features about how China’s Belt and Road Initiative is transforming Cosco Shipping (No. 279 on the list) into a global powerhouse, and how Ping An Insurance (No. 29 on the list and China’s largest private company) is making a big bet on data.

Other news below.

Alan Murray



Boxed in at the Dock

The port of Piraeus has been the strategic jewel at the heart of Greece for 2,500 years—and now, it has become a showcase in action of China's Belt and Road Initiative. The port has been majority-owned since 2016 (and operated since 2009), by China Cosco Shipping, a state-owned giant, and the purchase of the port threw Greece an economic lifeline when it needed it most. Now, Fortune's Vivienne Walt tracks what Greece gave up in return. Fortune 

Building a Data Empire  

Ping An built an empire around safe and staid products like life insurance. But now, the company is looking to big data and planning to do battle with Alibaba and Tencent, writes Fortune's Clay Chandler. The five biggest data-driven companies launched or acquired by China’s Ping An are collectively now valued at about $70 billion. Fortune

Hong Kong Protests Escalate 

Protests in Hong Kong continued through their seventh weekend on Sunday, passing a new threshold as protestors defaced the Chinese government's liaison office, including by pelting eggs, before the evening ended in a cloud of tear gas, and later, a mob of masked, armed people set upon pro-democracy protestors near a train. WSJ / BBC

Shipping Industry Grapples with Hormuz Tensions

After Iran seized a British-flagged tanker on Friday, the shipping industry is questioning how to protect itself from rising tensions in the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow passageway that forms the world's most important oil chokepoint. The industry notes that, while they may carry a flag of one country, their crews are multinational and their business is international, and some are asking for military intervention, or believe armed escorts will become a necessity. FT


Siemens CEO Calls Trump the "Face of Racism" 

Posting on Twitter, Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser wrote he finds it "depressing" that "that the world’s most important political office is turning into the face of racism and exclusion." Kaeser was responding to a sarcastic tweet by a former German lawmaker about Trump's German background, who said the country may have to "take Trump back", after the President led a campaign rally of "send her back" directed at Representative Ilhan Omar.  Bloomberg 

An IMF Age Limit

Amid the search for the next head of the IMF, age may be an impediment. The French government is considering backing Kristalina Georgieva, the Bulgarian head of the World Bank, for the role, but the only issue is a strict age cap—no one over 65 can take the job, and she's exactly 65. The French are now suggesting overturning the rule, according to reports. The age limit also excludes Mario Draghi, former head of the ECB, who is 71. FT

Dubbing Movies—for an English-Speaking Audience 

English-language movies have long been dubbed into other languages—but Netflix's huge international catalogue means that is now happening the other way around. The most popular show is the originally Spanish-language "Money Heist", but Netflix said that three other new, non-English series each gained "12 to 15 million global viewers" since their release, a growth in popularity that's driving a search for voice actors and directors. New York Times  

The Birth of the Cosmic Crisp

A new apple has arrived: a cross-breed between the sweet, juicy Honeycrisp and the long lasting Enterprise. It's been in the works since 1997, and this California Sunday piece tracks its creation and rise in an apple industry that has long grappled with the tradeoffs between a perfect-looking apple, and a great tasting one. California Sunday 

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Katherine Dunn. Find previous editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here.
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