25 super companies out-earning governments ranked in new research


By Tony Connelly, Sports Marketing Reporter

March 22, 2016 | 3 min read

Some of the biggest companies in the world are now generating high revenues than major world powers’ GDP, according to new research from a leading foreign policy firm.

The notion of global superpower is changing as multinational companies select where they are domiciled based on tax laws. By going “stateless” multinational giants like Apple are able to maximise their profits and are now vying with governments for global superpower.

New research from global affairs research firm The Foreign Policy Group argues that there is now a shift from “stateless” to a “virtual” corporate world where “corporations are likely to overtake all states in terms of clout."

Walmart tops the list of 25 companies now more powerful than many countries with annual revenue in 2015 of $486bn. Oil firms Exxonmobil and Royal Dutch Shell were second and third respectively while Silicon Valley giant Apple is ranked as the fourth richest company on the planet with annual revenue in 2015 of $234bn.

Parag Khanna, an international relations expert who contributed to the study, points out that savvy “metanationals” often have legal domicile in one country, corporate management in another, financial assets in a third, and administrative staff spread over several more.

He says some of the largest American-born firms such as GE, IBM and Microsoft are “collectively holding trillions of dollars tax-free offshore by having revenues from overseas markets paid to holding companies incorporated in Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands, or Singapore.”

Khanna concludes that the notion of taxing a metanational based on its headquarters’ location has become “painfully antiquated” and predicts that disassociating from terrestrial restraints and harnessing the power of the cloud “may even be inevitable.”

Below is the top 25 list.


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