Malaysia has 89 companies in first Fortune 500 list of South-East Asia’s largest companies; Maybank is country's top brand


Malaysia's Maybank was seen as the most valuable brand in the country. Mybank was placed 11th in both the Top 20 companies by revenue and the Top 20 by profits lists. - Photo: The Star/ANN

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): The first South-East Asian edition of the Fortune 500 list, a ranking of the largest companies by revenue, features 89 companies based in Malaysia and 84 companies in Singapore. Indonesia tops the list with 110 while Thailand is close second with 107 companies.

According to Fortune 500, Malaysia's Maybank was seen as the most valuable brand in the country. Mybank was placed 11th in both the Top 20 companies by revenue and the Top 20 by profits lists.

The Straits Times has reported, in a strong showing, five of the top 10 companies ranked by revenue in the fiscal year ending Dec 31, 2023, are based in Singapore.

They include commodities trader Trafigura, which came in first, as well as 10th-ranked DBS Group.

Agribusiness groups Wilmar International and Olam Group as well as manufacturing services provider Flex were the three other top firms from Singapore.

In a statement on June 18, Fortune said that Trafigura dominated the rankings with sales of US$244 billion (S$330 billion).

“The privately held commodity trader in minerals, metals and energy had the fewest employees among the list’s top 10 companies by revenue and is the second most profitable amongst this group,” added the global business media firm.

Trafigura’s sterling result comes even as it grapples with a surge in overdue debts and the fallout of a bribery probe. In March 2024, the trader pleaded guilty in the United States to a decade of oil bribery in Brazil and agreed to pay about US$127 million.

Fortune, which publishes a much-watched annual list of the 500 top-grossing US companies as well as global, Europe and China rankings, said its focus on South-East Asia comes amid the rapid development of the region’s economies and its growing significance in the global economy due to shifting supply chains.

Singapore-headquartered companies make up the largest share of the top 10 and top 20 lists among the South-East Asian countries, whether ranked by revenue or profitability.

As is the case with the top 10 by revenue, five companies figured in the top 10 by profitability.

Singapore contributed nine firms in the top 20 list by revenue, and eight when ranked by profitability.

The inaugural rankings include companies from seven nations in this region - Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia.

Indonesia contributed the most companies to the overall list with 110 entries. Thailand came in a close second with 107, followed by Malaysia with 89 companies and Singapore with 84.

Meanwhile, Vietnam is home to 70 companies on the list; the Philippines, 38; and Cambodia, two.

The top 10 firms by revenue hailed from an eclectic range of sectors.

While the energy sector held three of the top 10 spots, fast-moving consumer goods, financial services and commodities were represented as well.

The 10 largest companies on the list reported a combined revenue of US$650 billion.

“That accounts for more than a third of the revenue for fiscal year 2023 across all South-east Asia 500 companies which reported total revenues of US$1.8 trillion.

“The minimum revenue threshold to be included on the list was US$460.8 million,” Fortune noted.

(Clockwise from top left) DBS Group, Wilmar International, Flex and Olam Group were among the companies from Singapore in the Fortune list. PHOTOS: ST FILE, FLEX, BT FILE(Clockwise from top left) DBS Group, Wilmar International, Flex and Olam Group were among the companies from Singapore in the Fortune list. PHOTOS: ST FILE, FLEX, BT FILE

It also said the energy sector was the region’s largest, with collective revenues of US$590.7 billion, while banking was second largest at US$242 billion.

When ranked on profitability, commercial banks dominated the top 10, accounting for six of the top 10 most profitable companies on the list, Fortune noted.

It added that DBS came out tops among banks in both revenue and earnings. It is also one of only three companies that ranked in the top 10 both in terms of revenue and profits.

The other two are Trafigura and Indonesian state-owned energy firm Pertamina.

Overall, revenues and profits shrank over the past year for companies on the South-east Asia 500 list, Fortune said.

However, these changes, which it said were driven by weak energy markets, “masked impressive growth stories” in multiple industries.

Fast growers included Indonesian miners Harita Nickel and Merdeka Battery Materials, travel companies like Thai Airways, and a range of insurers and banks, it said.

“The Fortune South-east Asia 500 reflects a dynamic and fast-changing region – one whose core economies are growing notably faster than those of Europe or the US,” said Clay Chandler, Fortune’s executive editor for Asia.

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