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Six Swiss companies make European Top 100

The commodities and raw materials group Glencore International was Switzerland's national champion

(Keystone)

Switzerland is home to six of Europe's largest companies in terms of turnover – Glencore, Nestlé, Novartis, Roche, ABB and Adecco – according to a business survey.

Some of the most profitable firms in Europe are in the pharmaceutical industry. Novartis, whose sales grew by 21 per cent in 2005, rose from 65th to 56th in the ranking.

The 2005 league table of Europe's biggest companies was published jointly on Wednesday by business information provider Dun & Bradstreet Switzerland and the Swiss business newspaper Handelszeitung.

Two Swiss companies feature in the top 20. The Zug-based company Glencore International, one of the world's largest suppliers of commodities and raw materials, was the national champion, coming sixth overall, with revenue totalling €76 billion (SFr120 billion) – two places up on last year.

The food giant Nestlé, the leading food business ahead of rivals Unilever, Kraft and Danone, came 12th with total revenue of SFr92 billion.

Four other Swiss companies made it into the Top 100, including the pharmaceutical groups Novartis (56th) and Roche (68th).

These two companies both had big jumps in turnover (21 per cent and 19.2 per cent respectively) – even greater than other big industry players, for example 8.4 per cent for GlaxoSmithKline and 7.4 per cent for Aventis.

Novartis and Roche were followed by the ABB engineering group in 82nd position and the employment agency Adecco in 86th. ABB has managed a recent turnaround and successful move back into profit, following a tough period when it nearly went bust.

Domination

Germany dominated the Top-100 business league, with 28 companies represented. This was followed by 24 French, 17 British and six Swiss firms.

Europe's largest company was Royal Dutch Shell (SFr411 billion), with fellow oil companies BP and Total coming second and fourth respectively.

Car manufacturers DaimlerChrysler (third) and Volkswagen (fifth) were also among the leaders, along with German electronics firm Siemens (seventh) and French retail chain Carrefour (eighth).

The survey revealed that 2005 was a very good year for most European companies with 80 per cent enjoying greater sales.

From an industry perspective, European pharmaceutical businesses were extremely profitable last year. Aventis (France), Celesio (Germany), GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca (Britain) all had operating profit margins of around 30 per cent.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

2005 Top-100 ranking by turnover (2004 position in brackets)
1 (1) Royal Dutch Shell (Netherlands), €259 billion (SFr411 billion).
2 (2) BP (Britain), €214 billion.
3 (3) DaimlerChrysler (Germany), €149 billion.
4 (4) Total SA (France), €143 billion.
5 (5) Volkswagen (Germany), €95 billion.
6 (8) Glencore International (Switzerland), €76 billion.
12 (11) Nestlé (Switzerland), €58 billion.
56 (65) Novartis (Switzerland), €27 billion.
68 (73) Roche (Switzerland), €22 billion.
82 (85) ABB (Switzerland), €19 billion.
86 (80) Adecco (Switzerland), €18 billion.

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