Wal-Mart reclaims Fortune 500 crown as China snaps at its heels

 
Tim Wallace
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Chinese firms are closing in on the top spots in global business, as highlighted by yesterday’s update of the Fortune 500 index of corporate giants, which showed the world’s third and fourth biggest companies are now based in the planet’s second largest economy.

Retail titan Wal-Mart regained its spot at the top, swapping places with Shell, which had led the league table for two years.

Its revenues of $476.3bn (£278bn) put it in the number one slot, above the energy firm’s $459.6bn.

And Britain’s firms edged down in the rankings. The UK’s biggest company, BP, stayed put at number six, and its second largest, Tesco, held firm in 63rd place.

But beyond that, the biggest bank, HSBC, dropped from 60th place to 77th.

And its closest rival, Lloyds Banking Group, slid from 84th to 95th in the table.

The rankings, updated every year, are based on firms’ total revenues for the year.

Chinese firms are edging closer to the top. Oil and gas producer Sinopec climbed one place to become the third largest firm, on revenues of $457.2bn for 2013.

And industry rival China National Petroleum climbed one spot into fourth place.

A total of 23 new firms joined the top 500 for the first time, and the cohort was led by another Chinese company – the China Development Bank. Its revenues of $71.3bn catapulted it into 122nd place.

The next highest joiner was from another emerging giant economy, Brazil.

Banking conglomerate Itau joined at 138th place, closely followed by Dutch finance group Louis Dreyfus Commodities, which is 150th in the rankings.