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Tuesday, 01 September 2009 10:54

SA Companies Shines On Forbes List

By Sue Kamhunga

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, August 6 (Business Day) - Seventeen South African companies, headed by Standard Bank, have been included in the annual world's top 2000 quoted companies compiled by US publisher Forbes. These were among international players that Forbes said were well prepared to take advantage of growth opportunities once the global economy recovered from its downturn.

Standard Bank was placed at number 223, up from 522 last year, an improvement that CEO Jacko Maree said this week showed South African companies were now major players in the global corporate sector.

The Forbes list is headed by the diversified US giant General Electric. Apart from Standard, other South African companies on the list are Sasol at number 305, FirstRand (332), MTN (382), Impala Platinum (772), Telkom (786), Gold fields (1097), Bidvest (1102), Sanla (1142), Remgro (1220), Naspers (1240), AngloGold Ashanti (1408), Steinhoff (1461), African Rainbow Minerals (1664), RMB Holdings (1740), Shoprite (1749) and Harmony Gold (1958).

The Forbes Global 2000 ranking uses four metrics: sales, profit, assets and market value. The list has been published since 2004. For the current list, market values up to the end of February were used.

"I think being included in the list is recognition that Standard Bank is no longer a predominantly South African company but we are now operating throughout the world (with a presence) in about 40 countries," Maree said.  "It also shows that local companies are quite highly regarded on the global scene even though we are a small country in terms of our contribution to the global GDP. We have more companies on the list than our share of the world GDP."

The bank's main competitor in emerging markets, Standard Chartered Bank, was ranked 117.

The CEO of Standard Chartered Bank SA, Ebenezer Essoka, said the ranking acknowledged the bank's successful organic growth strategy in recent years, which had also benefited from strategic acquisitions in key growth markets. 

MTN, which last year was ranked 522, said it was also exploring expansion plans despite the global downturn.

"Demand for mobile services continues to impress on the upside amidst the global economic slowdown. We remain cautiously optimistic about our prospects for 2009 in the challenging trading conditions," spokesperson Nozipho January Bardill said. 

The CEO of Naspers, Koos Bekker, who expressed surpise at his company's being included in the Forbes list, said the media group was not fazed by the recession because it opened new opportunities to expand.

"For example, many media markets abroad were previously too crowded and overpriced. Now we may have a chance to enter on a small scale. We're only interested in emerging markets", he said. (END/2009)

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