The recent evolution of the Swiss business environment shows that no one is doing better in Switzerland than the commodity traders. Glencore and other similar companies even put global companies like Nestlé, Roche, and ABB in their place, according to the most recent figures that show which are actually the biggest Swiss companies at the moment.
This ranking doesn’t only show how certain industries evolve in Switzerland, but it can also be used as an indicator for entrepreneurs and companies looking into investing or establishing their businesses in Switzerland.
Did you ever hear about Vitol? Or Trafigura? If you haven’t heard about them already, then you should keep them in mind! After all, they are among the three biggest Swiss companies, at least when it comes to sales. The two commodity traders are in second and third place.
The highest-turnover company also trades in commodities but it’s likely to be better known. Glencore forked an incredible 202 billion CHF in turnover in 2017. That’s about as much as a third of the Swiss gross domestic product.
With sales of 89 billion CHF, Nestlé is the first industrial group to rank sixth in the top. With Roche, Novartis, and ABB, the top 10 biggest Swiss companies are completed with three well-known companies that are traditionally known as some of the largest players on the Swiss market.
However, the three traditional companies do not come close to the sales made by the secretive commodity group Glencore.
Let’s take a closer look at the top 5 largest Swiss companies and what their current market position tells us about investment opportunities in Switzerland.
Founded in 1974 under the name Marc Rich + Co AG, Glencore initially focused on the physical marketing of ferrous and non-ferrous metals and minerals as well as crude oil. A short time later, they also broadened their focus to oil products.
Until 1987, Glencore was mainly a trading company. After that, they started to expand their business through acquisitions in mining as well as smelting, refining, and processing of raw materials. For 2017, the company had a turnover of 202 billion CHF, grabbing the top spot in the biggest Swiss companies ranking.
Vitol is an energy and commodities company, founded in Rotterdam, in 1966. Today, the company has approximately 40 offices all over the world and it has built a strong presence in the Swiss market.
Vitol is focused on trading crude oil and products, as well as on delivering energy products to countries worldwide. With an annual turnover of 178 billion CHF in Switzerland, it is now the second biggest Swiss company.
Trafigura is one of the largest commodity trading companies, focusing on oil and petroleum products, metals and minerals, as well as undertaking shipping and chartering activities for clients from all over the world.
Trafigura is a relatively new presence in Switzerland after the Geneva office became the main regional trading office in the region in 2012. The company has secured the third place in the biggest Swiss companies ranking with an annual turnover of 136 billion CHF.
Cargill has been active in Switzerland since 1956. The global trading for oilseeds and grains is managed out of the Geneva location. The offices in Geneva also serve as a global headquarters for shipping and freight trading operations. Cargill International had an annual turnover of 108 billion CHF.
Mercuria Energy Trading
Mercuria was founded in 2004 and is one of the world leading companies in the trading of physical energy products and dry bulk commodities. The headquarters are located in Geneva. Mercuria comes fifth in this year’s rankings, with an annual turnover of 102 billion CHF.
If we take a look at the top 5 Swiss companies right now, one common feature stands out: they are all active in the commodities trading field. This is certainly an indicator that this type of businesses is doing good in Switzerland, partially because of the advantages provided by the country as a business location.
Therefore, those interested in investing in Switzerland or starting their own business in the Confederation should analyze the opportunities provided by this vast industry sector.
Chrissy Ryland - I'm a freelance writer and blogger from Northern California. I grew up loving all things entertainment and travel and now I am blessed with a career that lets me write about both of those topics along with many others. For inquiries about a story you think I might want to cover, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org