Royal Dutch Shell Plc  .com Rotating Header Image The world’s most profitable firms

The world’s largest corporations are getting even richer

© Camille Switzerland3rd January 2008

Bumper oil prices and an increasing number of mergers and acquisitions meant another year of record revenues for the world’s largest corporations. But which firms are the most profitable? We take a look at the top 10.

According to a survey by business magazine Fortune, US oil giant Exxon Mobil is the world’s most profitable company. In 2006, Exxon Mobil got even richer. The firm’s profits continued to soar thanks to bumper crude oil prices. Its earnings jumped 9.3 per cent, to a whopping $39.5bn, breaking the Fortune Global 500 record that it set the previous year with $36.1bn in profits.

Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest energy producer, was formed in 1999 by the merger of two major oil companies, Exxon and Mobil. The $73.7bn merger was unique in US history because it reunited the two largest companies of John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil trust, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey/Exxon and Standard Oil Company of New York/Mobil, which had been forcibly separated by government law nearly a century earlier.

Exxon Mobil, which employs more than 82,000 people worldwide, has, in the past, come under some serious criticism for its foreign business practises. Forbes Magazine raised questions about the firm’s dealings with the leaders of oil-rich nations. Exxon Mobil controls concessions covering 11 million acres off the coast of Angola that hold about 7.5 billion barrels of crude oil. Forbes alleged that the Texas-based firm handed hundreds of millions of dollars to the corrupt regime of President José Eduardo dos Santos in the late 1990s.

Exxon Mobil’s environmental record has also been heavily criticised by conservationists disappointed about its stance on climate change. Figures from the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) show that, in 2000, Exxon Mobil was ranked sixth on the Toxic 100 list of US corporate air polluters.

Rex Tillerson, the 55-year-old Texan, is the current chairman and chief executive officer of Exxon Mobil.

Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s biggest oil company, is the world’s second most profitable firm, according to Fortune. The Anglo-Dutch firm reported a net income of $25.44bn in 2006, up 12 per cent from a year ago. In 2007, Fortune magazine ranked Shell as the third-largest company on the planet, behind Wal-Mart and Exxon Mobil. Founded in 1907, the firm operates in more than 130 countries.

United Airlines comes in at number three on the Fortune list. After emerging from bankruptcy in early 2006, the holding company that owns United Airlines made a net income of $22.9bn, Fortune said.

BP, formerly known as British Petroleum, is another firm that has benefited from sky-high crude oil prices. The London-based firm made a profit of $22bn in 2006, down 1.5 per cent on the previous 12 months. A major oil spill and two pipeline shutdowns in Alaska were the main two reasons why BP’s profits slipped. Despite the profit decline, BP is still the fourth most profitable organisation on the globe.

US banking giant Citigroup generated a net income of $21.5bn in 2006, making it the fifth richest company in the world. Citigroup, formed through a merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group in 1998, has just under 300,000 employees and over 200 million customer accounts in more than 100 countries. The New York-based firm owns brands such as Citi Cards, CitiFinancial, CitiMortgage, CitiInsurance, Primerica, Diners Club, The Citigroup Private Bank and CitiCapital.

Bank of America Corp ($21.1bn), General Electric ($20.8bn), Gazprom ($20.3bn), Pfizer ($19.3bn) and Chevron ($17.1bn) completed Fortune’s top 10 (all financial figures are for 2006). Other firms in the top 20 included HSBC Holdings, Toyota Motor, Petronas and Microsoft.

Some of the information in this article was provided by Wikipedia – www. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

2 Comments on “ The world’s most profitable firms”

  1. #1 John Donovan
    on Jan 10th, 2008 at 13:32

    You will need to click on the link at the foot of the article to seek out further information.

  2. #2 John Wright
    on Jan 10th, 2008 at 13:24

    Great article. Who wrote the copy originally?

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