The number of South Korean companies among the world's top 500 companies has remained unchanged in the past decade, while that of U.S. companies and Chinese firms has jumped by 41 and 20, respectively.
In a report released by the Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI) on April 11, only four South Korean companies has made it on the list of the top 500 firms in terms of market capitalization this year, which remained unchanged compared to 2008. The number of South Korean firms on the global top 500 list increased from 4 in 2008 to 8 in 2011 and 2012 but it continuously decreased to 5 in 2013 and 3 in 2017. The number rose to 4 in 2018 as Celltrion Inc. has joined the list but it remained unchanged since then.
Samsung Electronics Co., POSCO Inc., Shinhan Financial Group, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) were included in the world’s top 500 company list in 2008, while Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix Inc., Celltrion and Hyundai Motor Co. have made the list in 2018.
However, the market capitalization of South Korean companies has increased nearly threefold from US$148.1 billion (158.39 trillion won) in 2008 to US$447.3 billion (478.39 trillion won) in 2018. In particular, the market capitalization of Samsung Electronics, which has been on the list for the last decade, increased more than four times from US$77.5 billion (82.89 trillion won) in 2008 to US$319.8 billion (342.03 trillion won) in 2018.
The combined market capitalization of the world’s top 500 firms also has grown by 56.9 percent from US$26.06 trillion (27,874.1 trillion won) in 2008 to US$40.9 trillion (43,745.76 trillion won) in 2018. The ratio of the top five countries in terms of amount increased 11.4 percent points from 63.8 percent to 75.2 percent over the period.
Notably, the U.S. and China show a significant growth. The combined market capitalization of U.S. firms rose from US$8.74 trillion (9,351.6 trillion won) in 2008 to US$19.67 trillion (21,038.03 trillion won), while that of Chinese companies grew from US$2.9 trillion (3,101.44 trillion won) to US$5.57 trillion (5,960.43 trillion won). The number of U.S. companies that joined the top 500 list also jumped by 41 from 145 to 186, while that of Chinese firms increased by 20 from 43 to 63.
Out of 175 companies that have newly joined the list in 2018, 71 are U.S. firms and 32 are Chinese companies. China’s Tencent Holdings, which ranked fifth, and Alibaba Group, which took eighth place, and U.S.-based Facebook Inc., which came in sixth, are listed on the top 10 in 2018.
By industry, there is a big change, except for the financial industry, which took up most both in 2008 and 2018. The industries that ranked at No.2 to No.4 in terms of market capitalization changed from energy, material and industrial material in 2008 to information technology (IT), consumer goods and healthcare. The market capitalization of the IT industry have more than quadrupled, dramatically narrowing the gap with the financial industry.
The companies that ranked highly in terms of market capitalization in 2018 are mostly core companies in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc., Microsoft Corporation, Tencent, Facebook and Alibaba. This is because these firms have succeed in swimming with the rapidly changing tide and seeking out a new growth engine.