South African firms dominate list of continent’s top companies

Last week the magazine African Business published its annual Top 250 Companies report, which ranks Africa’s top firms primarily by market capitalisation.

Its universe incorporates companies that are listed on African stock exchanges, as well as those that are listed on other bourses elsewhere in the world, but are African in origin.

In 2011 when the magazine conducted its survey, the top 250 companies had reported year-on-year growth of 33% in terms of market capitalisation, up from USD 639bn to USD 848bn, underlining the scale of the recovery from the global financial crisis. Yet almost all of those gains have been lost over the past year as the combined value of Africa’s biggest 250 listed firms has fallen to USD 652bn.

This was attributed to fears of a double-dip recession in the industrialised world, as well as ongoing insecurity in Nigeria and political winds of change in north Africa.

Despite big falls in the value of most of Africa’s largest companies, according to the report, the ranking order of the continent’s five largest firms remains the same as last year.

Mining giants BHP Billiton and Anglo American lead the way with market capitalisations of USD 71.5bn and USD 54bn respectively, although these figures represent big falls on last year’s USD 99.4bn and USD 77.2bn.

In the context of such substantial reductions, third-equal-placed SABMiller recorded a value of USD 35bn, almost the same as last year’s USD 35.7bn.

Synthetic fuels producer Sasol and MTN Group of the telecoms sector retain fourth and fifth spots with modest falls in value to USD 32bn and USD 29.5bn.

As expected, South Africa continues to dominate the list, filling the top nine positions, before Maroc Telecom of Morocco comes in at 10th place.

This year is generally expected to see a rise in the values of Africa’s listed firms, as growth prospects remain buoyant while the global economy has shown signs of an ongoing recovery.

Africa's top 20 companies Source: African Business
RankCompany nameCountryIndustryValue (Millions US$)
1.BHP BillitonSouth AfricaMining and Metals71,595
2.Anglo AmericanSouth AfricaMining and Metals54,351
3. SABMillerSouth AfricaConsumer Goods – Food35,051
4.SasolSouth AfricaOil and Gas32,019
5.MTN GroupSouth AfricaTelecom29,518
6. Kumba Iron OreSouth AfricaMining and Metals19,412
7. Standard Bank GroupSouth AfricaBanks and Financial16,407
8.Angola American PlatinumSouth AfricaMining and Metals14,299
9.FirstRandSouth AfricaBanks and Financial14,021
10.Itissalat Al MaghribMoroccoTelecom13,834
11.NaspersSouth AfricaMedia13,816
12.Absa GroupSouth AfricaBanks and Financial11,365
13.Anglogold AshantiSouth AfricaMining and Metals11,281
14.Impala PlatinumSouth AfricaMining and Metals11,043
15.Dangote CementNigeriaConstruction and Materials10,565
16.SanlamSouth AfricaInsurance9,885
17.Shoprite HoldingsSouth AfricaRetail and General Trading9,164
18.Old MutualSouth AfricaInsurance8,094
19.Attijariwafa BankMoroccoBanks and Financial7,804
20.Gold FieldsSouth AfricaMining and Metals7,580

Imara is an investment banking and asset management group renowned for its knowledge of African markets.