European Corporations

The Slow Continent

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    European companies could lose market share if they fail to keep up with fast-growing U.S. and Asian rivals, affecting economic growth and employment on the continent.

  • Facts


    • The world’s 10 most valuable companies are based in the United States and the top three, Apple, Alphabet (Google) and Microsoft, are worth €1.4 trillion, more than Germany’s 30 DAX-listed firms together, a Handelsblatt study showed last September.
    • A ranking of global competitiveness showed last year Germany slipped down a notch to fifth place, behind Switzerland, Singapore, the United States, and the Netherlands.
    • An innovation ranking from August showed of a total of 128 countries Switzerland, Sweden, Britain, the United States and Finland held the top five positions, while Germany came took the tenth position.
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Source Andreas Schalk Flickr 24313783210_5fd19b5e8c_o
Europe's biggest listed grow slower than most of their U.S and Asian peers. Source: Andreas Schalk / Flickr

A new study of the world’s 500 largest publicly traded companies in the world show that only a small fraction – roughly 23 or less than 5 percent – show consistent, organic growth in sales, a study by U.S. executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles concluded.

Those authentically fast-growing companies include well-known U.S. tech firms such as Apple and Google’s Alphabet, but also Chinese insurer Ping An, U.S. pharmaceutical maker Gilead Sciences, India’s Tata Consultancy Services and Taiwanese chip maker TSMC. Some of the firms have been or are clients of Heidrick & Struggles, which is headquartered in Chicago and listed on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.

The results showed that all but one of the companies came from the United States or Asia. The lone European company to make the list was London-listed and Dublin-headquartered biotech and drugs maker Shire. Although U.S. companies make up 39 percent, or 197 of the 500 most-valued companies according to a Financial Times ranking, they make up 16, or 70 percent, of the list of 23.

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