Friday, 7 December 2012

Africa’s 10 Biggest Companies

There is no shortage of big businesses that call Africa home. The Africa Report website maintains a list of the top companies on the continent - let’s take a look at the 15 biggest, based on earnings during 2011..
  1. Sonatrach

    $58.7 billion

    Winning the biggest business race by a wide margin is this Algerian oil & gas giant. Sonatrach keeps most of its focus on the country’s rich oil and gas fields, but has expanded to operations in other places. It also does work in other industries, such as the desalination of seawater and power generation. Sonatrach invests in or owns 18 major companies, including an airline.

    2. Sonangol

    $22.2 billion

    Though this list is dominated by South African companies, the top spots go elsewhere. Sliding in at number two is the Angolan oil giant Sonangol. It is practically a monopoly in the country, which is Africa’s third-biggest oil producer. Under its umbrella sits over 30 subsidiaries - most of which do business with Sonangol to help it reach its needs. These include railways, transport systems, telecommunications companies and refinery facilities located across the globe.

    3. Sasol

    $18.3 billion

    Energy is the name of the game for SASOL, which has interests in coal, oil, gas and more. It recently made a massive investment in a gas-to-fuel plant in the U.S. - to the tune of $21 billion - and has a presence in 38 countries. It can be found on every continent and is very active in the African energy market. SASOL is said to contribute 4 percent of South Africa’s GDP.

    4. MTN Group

    $17.2 billion

    Though it is the smaller of South Africa’s two mobile giants, MTN has a much larger global reach than its competitors. It is present in sixteen African countries and several in the Middle East. Established in 1994, by mid-2011 the group boasted having over 147 million subscribers. In recent years it has made good on expanding in West Africa and the Middle East, helping it collect some nice returns.


    5. The Bidvest Group

    $16.5 billion

    Large corporate groups often have their fingers in many pies. Still, Bidvest takes this to a whole different level. Though securely a South African company, it has operations across the planet, dealing in anything from travel to transportation to food services - of which Bidvest is one of the largest in the world. Said to employ over 100,000 people, Bidvest also has businesses in the fields of stationary, medical waste management and industrial lighting. Recently it has made an offer to buy Amalgamated Appliance Holdings, of which it already owns a share and which handles brands such as Russell Hobbs and Salton.

    6. Eskom

    $13.7 billion

    Though it is plagued with aging infrastructure, Eskom still remains the biggest generator of power in Africa and one of the biggest in the world. It generates 95 percent of power used in South Africa and also meets 45 percent of the rest of Africa’s power needs. There isn’t any company in Southern Africa that plays remotely the same role as Eskom, placing it in a good position to take in a lot of money - aided by its lucrative protection as an asset controlled by the South African government.

    7. Shoprite Holdings

    $10.14 billion

    One of Africa’s richest men sit at the head of this table: a retail giant found across the continent. Its stable is full of pedigree brands: Shoprite, Checkers, OK, House & Home, Medirite Pharmacies and a multitude of shops based in all forms of retail. In total the group has control over or input in more than 1,700 shops - located in countries that include South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania and Mauritius. There are Shoprite stores in 17 African countries. It is listed on the South African, Zambian and Namibian stock exchanges.

    8. Sanlam

    $10.12 billion

    Founded nearly a century ago, Sanlam has evolved from its beginnings as a mere insurer to a large financial services group. It has a presence on both the Namibian and South African stock exchanges. Physically it operates in numerous countries on the continent and across the globe, including Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, and Malawi - as well as the U.K., India and Australia. It very recently made moves to enter the South-East Asian market, by buying a large share of a Malaysian insurance company.

    9. Vodacom Group

    $9.2 billion

    This telecommunications giant has done well, reaching far beyond the borders of its home base in South Africa. Today the Vodacom Group provides access to mobile communications in five African countries, totalling over 30 million customers. Its South African operation holds more than 50 percent market share in that country.

    10. Imperial Holdings

    $8 billion

    Measured by turnover, the Imperial Group is the 12th-largest company in South Africa. It owns the largest number of car dealerships in the country, which cover just about every major brand available. Beyond that it has a large rental division - including Eurocar and Tempest Car Hire - and is also the largest privately-held logistics company in the country. The group recently expanded into delivering pharmaceuticals. It has a large footprint across Africa and parts of Europe.


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