From the company that makes the zips on your clothes to the firm making pet food on behalf of the biggest supermarket brands, here are some of the world’s most secretive corporate giants
This Saudi Arabian oil company makes Microsoft look like a minnow. The corporation, which is owned by the Saudi government, has estimated revenues of $378bn (compared to Microsoft’s $87bn) and has a market cap of well over a trillion dollars, making it the world’s most valuable company – but many people have never heard of it.
The corporation owns the world’s largest onshore and offshore oil fields, and controls 288.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. Saudi Aramco’s outgoing CEO Khalid A. Al-Falih (pictured) is quite the grandee. On Wednesday, he was appointed Saudi health minister. His replacement at Saudi Aramco has yet to be named.
Otis has installed elevators in some of the world’s most famous buildings, including the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building, and carries the equivalent of the world’s entire population on its elevators every nine days. The company, which is headquartered in Connecticut, makes an estimated $13bn in revenue each year. But Otis is actually a smaller part of an even larger entity, United Technologies Corporation, which works in the aerospace and building systems industries worldwide, and boasts a market cap of $105bn.
Luxottica controls the vast majority of the sunglasses market, and owns brands such as Ray Ban (as sported by actor Tom Cruise here) and Oakley as well as producing sunglasses under license to brands including Coach and Prada. Most recently, it teamed up with internet search giant Google to work on the next iteration of Google Glass. CEO Massimo Vian (pictured) says that the aim is to make Glass “more stylish”. Half a billion people wear the corporation’s glasses today – do you?
American fast food giant Yum! owns Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell. The Kentucky-based corporation is the world’s largest fast food corporation by number of restaurants, with more than 41,000 in more than 125 countries, turning over $13bn. Fun fact: the company was spun out of PepsiCo, which is why you won’t find Coca-Cola in most of its restaurants.Another fun fact: the company’s executive chairman David Novak, pictured here with Hillary Clinton and singer Christina Aquilera, invented the Crystal Pepsi recipe.
Tencent is one of the largest web companies in the world, rivalling Amazon, Google, Facebook and Alibaba with a market value of $206bn. The Shenzhen-based corporation dabbles in internet, media, smartphones, entertainment and online advertising – it’s China’s answer to Google. CEO Ma “Pony” Huateng, pictured, is the third richest person in China. Recently, the company muscled into the lucrative new Internet of Things niche, offering developers a new operating system to allow devices to talk to each other, cutting out the middle (hu)man, which could take the corporation out of the shadows and into the mainstream.
The world’s largest manufacturer of zips is YKK Group, a Japanese corporation. The fly on your Levis is made by the company, and chances are that you own clothing with its hook and loop fasteners, plastic notions, webbings, snaps and buttons, too.The business was founded in 1934 but has failed to become a household name. To try to raise its profile, the company recently created an animated video entitled Fastening Days to showcase its wares.
Livestock, agricultural products, grain, oils and a hedge fund have helped this American multinational rake in revenues of $135bn. It helps that all of the eggs used in McDonald’s restaurants in the US pass through Cargill’s plants. The family-owned business was founded in 1865, and has 143,000 employees in 67 countries.While relatively unknown to the man on the street, the company recently attracted negative media coverage for its suppliers’ deforestation of the Amazon to produce soy.
Fans of cult film The Terminator will remember that Cyberdyne Systems created futuristic robotics technology. Fanuc is the Cyberdyne’s real-world counterpart, and is one of the largest makers of industrial robots in the world.The Japanese company has 250,000 robots installed worldwide and 60pc of the world’s precision machine tools use Fanuc controls.The company is ballooning in size off the back of the automation trend, growing revenues 60pc year-on-year to hit $6bn in 2014.
Simmons Pet Food purchased Menu Foods in 2010, creating the largest private-label pet foods manufacturer in the world. Simmons supplies all – or the majority – of the private-label wet pet food products sold all the major UK supermarkets. Simmons serves as a contract manufacturer for many branded pet food companies, making Iams for Procter & Gamble, for example.The company turned over $1bn way back in 2010. There are no available figures on the private company’s current revenues.