The 10 biggest Hong Kong companies by revenue consist mainly of financial institutions, given the nation’s dominance in financial services. Hong Kong is one of the world’s largest trading centers, having a vibrant port and a unique “one country, two systems” political system. This island territory situated very near to the Chinese mainland was annexed by the United Kingdom during the 1840’s and was returned to the Chinese government in 1997. Hong Kong’s history and its geo-strategic importance have made it one of the most important financial centers as well as the corporate headquarters for many British and Chinese corporations. It has independent executive, legislative and judiciary powers as well as a separate currency. Its liberal trade and business-friendly policies have allowed it to become highly developed, with one of the highest per capital incomes in the world.
Hong Kong has a strong history of entrepreneurism, which has led to it becoming a global business powerhouse. The trading houses in Hong Kong were known as “Hongs” and played a key role in the development of manufacturing, trade and consumerism. Some of these “Hongs” were established by European expatriates and were headed by a “Tai-Pan” who was responsible for dealing with Chinese merchants. Some of these conglomerates still survive today and generate billions of dollars in revenue each year. Jardine Matheson is ranked among the top 200 publicly traded companies in the world based on market value. Most of the 10 biggest Hong Kong companies by revenue also have Chinese origins.
Hong Kong is often cited as an example of laissez-faire capitalism, as the government has almost no import or export controls. Market forces have been given free reign, allowing it to develop rapidly. Hong Kong’s stature as an International Financial Center (IFC) has contributed heavily to the island’s economy. It is an important center for international trade and finance with the one of the highest concentrations of corporate headquarters in the Asia-Pacific region. Hong Kong is also the world’s 11th-largest trading entity, with its total value of imports and exports exceeding its GDP. The island’s physical location has enabled it to become a transportation and logistics hub, with the world’s second-busiest container port and the world’s busiest airport for cargo. Hong Kong’s exports mainly consist of exporting products made in mainland China, and distributed via the island.
We’ll look at the 10 biggest Hong Kong companies by revenue in this article, many of which also ranks as some of the world’s largest companies by revenue. Most of these companies are from a trading and financial background which is not surprising given Hong Kong’s trade and financial services prowess. After reading this article, you might also be interested in reading the 11 Most Profitable Companies in China.
10. ZTE – $15.7 billion
ZTE Corporation is a Chinese telecom equipment MNC that sells wireless, optical transmission and data telecommunications gear and software. It is also one of the five largest smartphone manufacturers in China. The company, which is one of the better-known Chinese consumer brands, was founded in 1985 and listed on the HK stock exchange in 2005. The company owns a huge portfolio of telecommunications patents and is one of the largest vendors of GSM equipment in the world.
9. Li & Fung – $18.8 billion
Li & Fung was started in 1906 in Guangzhou, China and is currently headquartered in Hong Kong. The company’s principal business is apparel though it operates in other areas such as furniture and home furnishings, and beauty and personal care products. It operates in 40 countries and works with over 15,000 suppliers.
8. China Taiping Insurance – $20.7 billion
China Taiping Insurance Holdings Company is a Hong Kong-based investment holding company principally engaged in insurance businesses. The company operates in the reinsurance, life insurance, property and casualty insurance, asset management, reinsurance brokerage, and pension management spaces. Its parent company is CTIH, which is a state-owned Chinese company. China Taiping Insurance reported revenue of $20.7 billion with profit of $785 million in 2015 and has assets of over $58 billion.
7. WH Group – $21.2 billion
Number 7 on the list of biggest Hong Kong companies by revenue is the WH Group that is engaged in the business of meat processing and is the largest producer of pork in China. This privately-owned company is run by Wan Long and employs over 60,000 people. WH Group’s main operating subsidiary is Shuanghui Development, which is the largest meat processor in China. In 2013, Shuanghui announced that it would purchase American pork producer Smithfield Foods, Inc.
6. CK Hutchison – $21.5 billoin
CK Hutchison Holdings Limited is a Hong Kong conglomerate formed through the merger of Cheung Kong Holdings and its main associate company Hutchison Whampoa in 2015. The company owns businesses in several industries such as ports, infrastructure, telecom, retail, and energy. It is one of the largest property owners and developers in Hong Kong, which is one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. It is run by Li Ka-shing, who is one of the richest men in the world.
5. China Resources Enterprise – $22.7 billion
China Resources Enterprise, next on our list of biggest Hong Kong companies by revenue is a conglomerate with business operations in retail, beverage, food processing and distribution, textiles, and real estate in Hong Kong and China. The company is a subsidiary of the Chinese Government-owned China Resources (Holdings). The company owns the ‘Snow’ brand of beers, which is the best selling brand in China.
4. AIA Group – $23.7 billion
AIA Group is one of the largest insurers in Asia, and was founded in 1919. In 2009, AIA split from American International Group Inc. (NYSE:AIG) and held an IPO in October 2010, raising $20.51 billion, which was the world’s third-largest IPO at that point in time. The company has a presence in 18 markets in the Asia-Pacific region, including Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, and Sri Lanka.
3. Jardine Matheson – $37 billion
The third place on our list of biggest Hong Kong companies by revenue goes to Jardine Matheson Holdings (Jardines) that is a British conglomerate that dates back to Imperial Chinese times. Jardines comprises a group of companies such as Jardine Pacific, Jardine Motors, Hongkong Land, Dairy Farm, Mandarin Oriental, Jardine Cycle & Carriage, and Jardine Lloyd Thompson. The company is controlled by the Keswick family, who are descendants of co-founder William Jardine’s older sister Jean Johnstone.
2. Citic Pacific – $53.8 billion
Citic Pacific is a diversified company with a primary focus on special steel manufacturing, property and iron ore mining. This Hong Kong conglomerate is majority owned by the Chinese Government-owned CITIC Group in Beijing. In 2015, Japanese trader Itochu invested HK$80 billion (US$10.4 billion) in the company, making it the largest Japanese investment in China.
1. Noble Group – $66.6 billion
With revenue of $66.6 billion, the Noble Group ranks tops on our list of the 10 biggest Hong Kong companies by revenue. It is one of the largest commodities traders in the world. The company’s main business is sourcing commodities from key producing nations in South America, South Africa, Australia, and Indonesia and supplying to major demand centers in Asia and the Middle East. The company has suffered a lot in recent times, after it got caught up in an accounting scandal which resulted in a severe drop in its stock price. The crash in commodity prices last year resulted in the group facing further financial losses.