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These are the most powerful European CEOs on the Global 500

August 5, 2022, 8:45 PM UTC
Left to right: Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, Mercedes Benz Group CEO Ola Källenius, and Glencore CEO Gary Nagle.
Jason Alden—Bloomberg/Getty Images; Tristar Media—Getty Images; Evgeny Biyatov—Sputnik via AP

While European political leaders may be household names, the CEOs of the biggest European companies by revenue are powerful figures in their own right. These CEOs have been leading their firms through a tumultuous year: Most are navigating the geopolitical landscape and humanitarian crisis in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and many are attempting to course-correct their firm’s operations to mitigate climate change.

While some of these leaders have been at the helm for years, the past several years have also seen some new faces atop major European companies. In the former category, Alexey Miller, the CEO of Russian oil giant Gazprom, has led that firm for over two decades, making him the CEO on this list with the longest tenure. Frank Appel is also a seasoned executive—going on his 14th year as CEO of Germany’s Deutsche Post DHL Group. At the other end of the tenure spectrum, newcomer Gary Nagle oversaw a prosperous period for Swiss mining and trading firm Glencore in his inaugural year as CEO, and Carlos Tavares led young carmaker Stellantis—product of the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group—through its first year.

This list also reflects transfers in leadership that are imminent—including at the very top. Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess, leader of Europe’s biggest company by revenue, will be stepping down after a tenure plagued by software malfunctioning and labor practice disputes; he will be replaced by Oliver Blume on September 1. The CEO of Russian oil giant Lukoil, Vagit Alekperov, left that company in April 2022 after he was sanctioned by the United Kingdom and his company broke with Putin to call for an end to the invasion of Ukraine. Alekperov was replaced by Vadim Vorobyov.

To say the list remains male-dominated would be an understatement—in fact, none of the CEOs at the 20 biggest European companies are women. 

Here are the most powerful European CEOs on the Global 500:

1. Herbert Diess

Company: Volkswagen
Global 500 rank: 8
Country: Germany
CEO since: 2018

2. Ben Van Beurden 

Company: Shell
Global 500 rank: 15
Country: U.K.
CEO since: 2014

3. Gary Nagle

Company: Glencore 
Global 500 rank: 23
Country: Switzerland
CEO since: July 2021

4. Patrick Pouyanné

Company: TotalEnergies
Global 500 rank: 27
Country: France
CEO since: 2014

5. Carlos Tavares

Company: Stellantis
Global 500 rank: 29
Country: The Netherlands
CEO since: 2021

6. Bernard Looney

Company: BP
Global 500 rank: 35
Country: U.K.
CEO since: 2020

7. Ola Källenius

Company: Mercedes-Benz Group 
Global 500 rank: 38
Country: Germany
CEO since: 2015

8. Oliver Bäte

Company: Allianz
Global 500 rank: 47
Country: Germany
CEO since: 2014

9. Thomas Burbel

Company: AXA
Global 500 rank: 48
Country: France
CEO since: 2016

10. Alexey Miller

Company: Gazprom
Global 500 rank: 52
Country: Russia
CEO since: 2000

11. Markus Rauramo

Company: Fortum
Global 500 rank: 56
Country: Finland
CEO since: 2020

12. Oliver Zipse

Company: BMW
Global 500 rank: 59
Country: Germany
CEO since: 2019

13. Timotheus Höttges

Company: Deutsche Telekom 
Global 500 rank: 62
Country: Germany
CEO since: 2014

14. Vadim Vorobyov

Company: Lukoil
Global 500 rank: 67
Country: Russia
CEO since: 2022

15. Philippe Donnet

Company: Assicurazioni Generali
Global 500 rank: 72
Country: Italy
CEO since: 2016

16. Philippe Brassac

Company: Crédit Agricole
Global 500 rank: 84
Country: France
CEO since: 2015

17. Francesco Starace

Company: Enel
Global 500 rank: 90
Country: Italy
CEO since: 2014

18. Jean-Bernard Lévy

Company: Electricité de France
Global 500 rank: 95
Country: France
CEO since: 2014

19. Frank Appel 

Company: Deutsche Post DHL Group
Global 500 rank: 99
Country: Germany
CEO since: 2008

20. Ulf Mark Schneider

Company: Nestlé
Global 500 rank: 103
Country: Switzerland
CEO since: 2017

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