The PrivCo 25 – Europe’s Largest Private Companies (2014)

PrivCo screened its proprietary Private Company Financial Database with information on 675,000+ private companies to rank the PrivCo 25 Europe: Europe’s top 25 privately-held companies based on 2013 revenue. PrivCo lays out detailed information of the top 5 firms, as well as information on the rest of the PrivCo 25 Europe companies.

PrivCo presents its key findings:

Natural Resources, Materials, & Retail Chains Top the PrivCo 25 Europe List
From an industry perspective, Natural Resources and Supermarket Chains were the most represented industries in the PrivCo Top 25 Europe List. As seen in The PrivCo 100 US, European Oil & Material firms have remained private due to the high use of project financing for larger capital projects, which has made staying private attractive. The top 3 privately-held European companies in the PrivCo 25 Europe were: Trafigura, Schwarz Group, and INEOS Group with cumulative revenue of over €200 Billion. In The PrivCo 100 US, the top three private companies accumulated a total of over $300 Billion.

Ownership Structure: Family & Employee Owned
Most of the top private European firms were found to be either family, foundation, or employee owned with little to no private equity investment. This has enabled owners to fully control their companies’ strategy and vision without needing to yeild to the constant demands of meeting a required return to investors. The lack of outside investors did not hinder sales as half of the PrivCo 25 Europe had sales of over €20 Billion. The PrivCo 100 US showed only slightly higher concentration, as 15 companies took in north of €20 Billion.

Geographic Skew: Western Europe Based Firms
Perhaps not surprisingly, all but one of PrivCo’s Top 25 Europe are based in Western Europe with Germany and Netherlands having a vast majority of the top companies and France at a distant third. Former Soviet countries have not been able to break into the largest tier of European companies with the exception of Ukrainian Energy company DTEK being ranked 25th.

Nordic countries, which have instituted tax rules to curb dynastic fortunes and whose companies frequently list shares, are barely represented with one Denmark-based company while Italy did not break into the top 25 at all. In fact, of Germany’s 9 companies on the list, all are based in the former “West” Germany. Only two firms represent southern Europe, both based in Spain.

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