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If Aramco were a country, it would be richer than Italy

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Saudi Aramco CEO Amin Nasser heads a corporation four and a half times the size of the UAE economy

The oil company’s market cap of over $1.8 trillion in 2021 is more than two-and-a-half times the GDP of its home country Saudi Arabia

Less than a century after a concession agreement was signed between Saudi Arabia and the Standard Oil Company of California – effectively creating Saudi Aramco – the energy giant can boast a market value greater than the GDP of all but seven countries on the planet.

Earlier this month, it overtook US tech giant Apple as the world’s most valuable company and now, new data from Real Business Rescue shows the state-owned behemoth is one of only three companies with a value higher than the GDP of 97 percent of the world’s nations.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, two of those companies are Apple and Microsoft, both household brands around the world, with market values of $2.25 trillion and $1.97 trillion respectively.

Apple made history in 2018 by becoming the first trillion-dollar company and it hasn’t looked back since. Not only does Apple’s market cap sit at twice the size of the GDP of Mexico – the country with the 15th highest GDP in the world – it is also over two and half times larger than the Netherlands and three times larger than Switzerland.

If Microsoft was a country, it would be one of the richest nations in the world with a value larger than the GDPs of countries like Canada, Russia and Spain.

In third place is the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, or Aramco as it is better known, which was founded in 1933. Real Business Rescue estimates Aramco’s market value at a shade under $1.9 trillion.

Only US, China, Japan, Germany, UK, India and France have higher GDP than the richest companies

Real Business Rescue

Despite the prediction that the current downturn in the North Sea may result in higher levels of business insolvency and liquidation in the oil and gas sector over the coming years, the company has been going strong and reached a market cap of over $1.8 trillion in 2021 – more than two and half times the GDP of its home country Saudi Arabia.

That’s four and a half times the size of the UAE economy, 1.3 times the size of Brazil’s GDP and even bigger than the Canadian economy. 

According to Real Business Rescue, which gathered market capitalisation figures and compared them to the GDP of major countries, there are only seven countries that these companies do not come close to competing with. The US, China, Japan, Germany, the UK, India and France all have higher GDP than any of the richest companies. 

Other companies in the top 20 include household names such as Samsung Electronics, worth more than 87 percent of worldwide GDPs; the creators of the single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, Johnson & Johnson, at 86 percent; Walmart (84 percent), LVMH (84 percent) Bank of America (80 percent) and Nestlé (80 percent).

Shaun Barton, national online business operations director at Real Business Rescue, said: “Over the last few decades, companies that have become household names have seen eye-watering growth on a global scale, to the point where their market capitalisation overshadows the GDPs of entire nations. Although market cap and GDP represent different things, the comparison helps to visualise the wealth and power held by these businesses. 

Aramco, Apple and Microsoft would rank in top 10 rich nations

“Our data shows that if Apple, Microsoft and Saudi Aramco were countries, they would rank in the top 10 richest nations in the world – highlighting how, as the world becomes increasingly connected, the sky’s the limit when it comes to growth for global companies. Not only can businesses end up wealthier than the countries they were founded in, but they can become wealthier than more than 97 percent of countries’ GDP – with more growth predicted in the future.”

The data comes just weeks after Aramco announced an almost 82 percent rise in first-quarter net profit, broadly in line with analyst forecasts, helped by strong oil prices.

The company reported a net income of $39.5 billion for the quarter to March 31 from $21.7 billion a year earlier.

Aramco, which listed in 2019 with the sale of a 1.7 percent stake mainly to the Saudi public and regional institutions, said its earnings were the highest in any quarter since it went public, boosted by crude prices, volumes sold and improved downstream margins.

The company declared a dividend of $18.8 billion to be paid in the second quarter and approved the distribution of one bonus share for every 10 shares held in the company.

Shares of the company have risen 37 percent since the start of the year, outperforming the Saudi index which is up nearly 14 percent.

Saudi Arabia is currently producing 10.5 million bpd, or every tenth barrel in the world, and will likely raise output to 11 million bpd later this year when a broader pact between OPEC and allies such as Russia expires.

Earlier this year, after revealing that net income more than doubled year-on-year to $110 billion in 2021, the energy giant also announced its growth strategy, which in its upstream business includes continuing to raise crude oil capacity to 13 million barrels per day (mmbpd) by 2027, and potentially increasing gas production by more than 50 percent by 2030.

In its downstream business, it plans to expand its liquids to chemicals capacity to up to 4 mmbpd.

Aramco also intends to develop a significant hydrogen export capability and become a global leader in carbon capture and storage.

In addition, Aramco said it is targeting investment in renewable energy and nature-based solutions, as it pursues its ambition of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions across its wholly-owned operated assets by 2050.

Real Business Rescue said its data is correct as of October 2021.

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