Nineteen South African companies have made it onto this year's prestigious Forbes Global 2000, which ranks the size of firms listed on the world's stock exchanges according to their market value, turnover, profit and assets.
Companies in the financial services sector top the list, with the Standard Bank and First Rand banking groups ranked, respectively, as the world's 285th and 361st largest public companies.
Next comes synthetic fuels giant Sasol, at 390th place, followed by insurance company Sanlam (454th) and telecommunications parastatal Telkom (589th).
Many companies founded and grown in South Africa but now based elsewhere in the world made it even higher on the list. Old Mutual, which moved its head office to London in 1999, came in 185th place. The Anglo American mining group was ranked 116th, and beer company SAB Miller 370th.
Mining conglomerate BHP Billiton, which has significant interests in South Africa but is classified as UK/Australian, was ranked 101st.
A balanced assessment
The Forbes list is considered one of the most balanced assessments of the size of public, listed companies, at is uses four different factors: market value, turnover, profit and assets. This is in contrast to rankings that concentrate on single measures, such as market capitalisation, resulting in misleadingly skewed results.
With 19 companies on the list, South Africa is far ahead of the rest of Africa in terms of global business. Egypt scored only three firms, and Liberia and Morocco one each.
The country is also ahead of, among others, Mexico (with 17 global companies), Austria (10), Denmark (11), Finland (15), Greece (12), Ireland (8), Norway (9), Russia (14), Saudi Arabia (5) and Singapore (14). Brazil is in the same spot as SA, with 19 global companies, while mainland China has 28 and India 33.
The US predictably tops the Forbes Global 2000, with 693 companies. Next is Japan with 320 companies, followed by the UK with 130.
US financial services firm Citigroup clinched the number-one spot on the list, followed by General Electric, Bank of America, American International Group and HSBC Group.
The full list of South African companies on the Forbes Global 2000 is as follows:
285 - Standard Bank Group (banking)
361 - FirstRand (banking)
390 - Sasol (oil and gas operations)
454 - Sanlam (insurance)
589 - Telkom (telecommunications services)
815 - MTN Group (telecommunications services)
976 - Remgro (conglomerates)
1 114 - Bidvest Group (conglomerates)
1 123 - Investec (diversified financials)
1 145 - Impala Platinum Holdings (materials)
1 155 - Imperial Holdings (transportation)
1 280 - Barloworld (conglomerates)
1 508 - Naspers (media)
1 524 - Metropolitan Holdings (diversified financials)
1 812 - Gold Fields (materials)
1 841 - Sappi (materials)
1 892 - Steinhoff International Holdings (consumer durables)
1 894 - Alexander Forbes (diversified financials)
1 989 - Tiger Brands (food, drink)
Forbes Gloabal 2000 companies with strong links to South Africa include:
101 - BHP Billiton (mining)
116 - Anglo American (mining)
185 - Old Mutual (financial services)
370 - SAB Miller (food, drink)