Forbes Global 2000: Shell Becomes Europe’s Top Public Company As Oil Price Boom Drives Profits

Petrol and energy giant Royal Dutch Shell has reclaimed its spot as Europe’s top-ranked public company on the Forbes Global 2000 ranking, pushing German car giant Volkswagen AG back down into second place.

The London-based Anglo-Dutch giant, with its distinctive yellow and red branding seen across Europe’s gasoline forecourts, is valued at $211 billion this year, a rise of nearly 40% over the year and over double the value of second-placed Volkswagen AG.

In May, Shell reported its highest ever quarterly profits for the first three months of 2022 at $9.13 billion, following a sharp rise in oil prices further heightened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and the punitive sanction regime placed on Russia thereafter. Having fallen to 324 on the list of 2000 listed companies last year, Shell has shaken off its pandemic blues and returned to the 16th spot globally in 2022.

In Europe’s second spot, Volkswagen AG, the famous German car giant that manufactures some of the best-known names in world motoring–Porsche, Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley–has lost over $60 billion in value over the last 12 months. Carmakers like Volkswagen have cut production thanks in part to a severe global shortage of chips and the ongoing fallout of its diesel emissions scandal, which has sent the share price down by around 30% since last year’s list was published.

Next on the list is Total SA. Another European oil and gas giant, Total has risen alongside Shell for many of the same reasons, and last year’s 344th-placed company on the Forbes’ Global 2000, has shot up into the top 30 (29) this year. Away from oil, German insurance giant Allianz and Britain’s biggest bank HSBC complete the top five.

Since 2003, Forbes’ Global 2000 list has measured the world’s largest public companies in terms of four equally weighted metrics: assets, market value, sales and profits. This year the list is compiled using data from FactSet Research and our market value calculation is based on closing prices from April 22, 2022. All figures are consolidated and in U.S. dollars.

In terms of big business and geography, Europe’s three dominant economic powers–Germany, France and the U.K.–Germany has 52 companies on the ranking; France has 54; the U.K. has 57.

While last year’s list was colored by the coronavirus pandemic and the changes to the business environment, this year the power of petrol in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine underlines some of the most remarkable changes.

While Russia’s billionaires have lost a significant percentage of their wealth since the invasion of Ukraine in February, Russia’s oil and gas giants have better weathered the storm.

Russian giant Gazprom has actually climbed up the list over 300 places and is now back in the top 50 (49). While Rosneft remains in the top 100 and LukOil also climbs over 300 places up the list.

The top-place oil giant in the world sits head and shoulders above the competition however, Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) is now third on the Forbes’ Global 2000 list with a value north of $2 trillion.


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