Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Twelve companies in Greece rank among world’s largest 2008

According to The Global 2000 compiled by Forbes using sales, profits, assets and market value, the world’s largest businesses are located in 60 countries and generate $37 trillion in revenue.

Greece has twelve companies in the Top 2000.

Rank Company name Industry
364 National Bank of Greece Banking
382 EFG Eurobank Ergasias Banking
498 Alpha Bank Group Banking
656 Hellenic Telecom (OTE) Telecommunications
656 Piraeus Bank Banking
705 Coca-Cola (Hellenic Bottling Co.) Food, Drink & Tobacco
1004 OPAP Hotel & Leisure (Gambling)
1030 Public Power Company (DEH) Utilities
1070 Hellenic Petroleum Oil & Gas Operations
1417 ATEbank Banking
1506 Bank of Greece Banking
1974 Greek Postal Savings Banking

The top 12 companies in Greece comprise seven banks, a phone company, electricity provider, oil refinery company, lottery operator and a Greek-owned American subsidiary. Note that it is not an American company in Greece, as explained in “Best places to work in Greece 2009.”

It is not surprising to see banks rank amongst the largest and most profitable, since the European Commission found that banks in Greece charge consumers up to 10 times more than other EU member states for the same services.

The national telecommunications provider (OTE) was a monopoly until 1998 and slowly privatized, though it has been fined heavily (33 million euros) for not opening up the market immediately, the government still owns approximately 30 percent and Deutsche Telekom owns 20 percent; this will change now that Deutche Telekom was given the green light by the EU to buy a control of OTE.

DEH and OPAP are still monopolies. Hellenic Petroleum is the largest and one of only two oil refinery companies, in which the Greek government holds a majority and the Latsis family (the richest Greeks in the world, residing in Switzerland) retains a controlling share.

Coca-Cola (American) is the only well-known multinational in Greece breaking the Global 2000, although the second largest bottler of Coca-Cola in the world has cut its growth outlook for 2008.

The presence of monopolies creates an inhospitable environment of price gouging, cartels and other unfair business practices that result from little or no competition. It is not a free marketplace, which means consumers are powerless.

Further, the absence of retailers among a country’s largest companies is confirmation of OECD findings that there is little innovation, and this results in limited economic growth, fewer jobs and the inability to attract and retain highly skilled professionals.

Top 2000 companies in the world

Rankings taken from Forbes’ Global 2000 and population stats sourced from the World Bank are presented in table form, an option not otherwise available for the convenience of readers. Countries were selected based on this site’s audience or included as evidence that smaller nations are competitive on a world scale.

Country Population # of Companies Highest rank
Australia 21,017,200 49 89
Austria 8,315,427 13 289
Belgium 10,625,701 12 85
Bermuda 66,163 24 273
Brazil 191,601,284 34 29
Canada 32,976,000 59 55
Cayman Islands 47.862 4 340
China 1,319,982,596 70 30
Czech Republic 10,334,160 1 461
Denmark 5,460,017 9 139
Finland 5,288,720 16 69
France 61,707,073 67 13
Germany 82,268,358 59 14
Greece 11,193,367* 12 364
Hong Kong/China 6,925,900 39 78
Hungary 10,055,580 2 525
India 1,123,318,991 48 193
Ireland 4,366,193 10 222
Israel 7,172,300 10 346
Italy 59,374,701 37 28
Japan 127,770,750 259 8
Luxembourg 479,994 8 38
Malaysia 26,549,518 15 623
Mexico 105,280,515 16 163
Netherlands 16,381,138 24 6
New Zealand 4,228,300 2 1095
Norway 4,709,153 14 60
Philippines 87,892,094 2 1214
Poland 38,060,823 4 671
Portugal 10,608,336 10 352
Russia 141,636,177 29 19
Singapore 4,588,600 18 344
South Africa 47,587,543 17 266
South Korea 48,530,416 52 59
Spain 44,878,946 29 21
Sweden 9,148,093 29 115
Switzerland 7,550,077 37 43
Taiwan 22,917,444 42 269
Thailand 63,832,135 14 205
Turkey 73,887,733 14 371
United Arab Emirates 4,364,746 2 726
UK 61,034,361 116 1
USA 301,621,000 598 2

*Greece did not update its population stats with the World Bank for 2008, so official figures still reflect 2007.

Related posts

Doing Business in Greece vs. the EU, Canada, Australia & USA
Birthplace of what?
How to start a business in Greece

7 Comments »

  thundera wrote @ September 15th, 2008 at 00:34

I knew that NBG (aka National Bank of Greece) was the biggest company in Greece but i would never imagine that it could have #364 out of the 2000 worlds largest businesses. I believe that is a good place for a “rather” small country like Greece.On the other hand take a look at Denmark which has half the population of Greece and the highest rank is #139.What i’ve heard is that Denmark is an expensive country.Bermuda..has a population of 66,163 and has 24 really big companies.For United Arab Emirates…i would expect a lot of big and profitable companies but as it shows…they not only have less than us but also their highest rank is #726.I would never expect that with all “the big life” documentaries i’ve seen on TV
Very interesting post Kat!

  DIO wrote @ September 17th, 2008 at 01:17

OPAP is a travesty, 1 of those things that happen only in Greece…

  graffic wrote @ September 19th, 2008 at 00:44

About banks: they even ask for money when you want to make a deposit. This really annoyed me.

But it should be quite alarming that only banks, gambling, public companies and petrol are there. No company with “Greek products” there.

About innovation: there is, but many people prefer to loose their money in big companies and big lies. :(

  Panos wrote @ September 19th, 2008 at 00:58

Hey, just stumbled upon your website and from skimming it through, I love it. Certainly refreshing to read a more neutral approach to our reality here in Greece. Keep up the good work!

Surprising that ELTA (Greek Postal Service) is in the 2000 richest!

  KT wrote @ September 21st, 2008 at 05:36

The irony here is that Greek is a “poor” country, and that Greeks are always complaining about how broke they are, yet OPAP is one of the richest companies??? You greeks in Greece are full of it.

  Sklavenitis wrote @ September 21st, 2008 at 18:57

Surprised not to see a single Greek co from the transportation sector.

  Kat wrote @ September 24th, 2008 at 01:19

T – I found it rather interesting to understand that being a small country and having a small population are not always indicators of what can be achieved when market conditions are favorable, red tape minimal and creativity encouraged. In the UAE, much of the wealth is private; remember that this list is about publicly held companies.

D – True, although they are under pressure by the EU to open up the market.

G – Yes, that’s true. Many banks charge for every little thing, so you could leave money in your account and do nothing with it and still be charged something by year’s end just for its existence.

What I meant by innovation is that there are no Greek product retailers in the Top 2000, while many other countries have something to offer, i.e., Watches from Switzerland, clothes/shoes from Italy, etc. I agree with your last point.

P – Hi and thank you. It’s nice to hear you say that.

KT – Gambling and bribes rack up huge figures every year, but there’s also tax dodging to fuel that. It’s a vicious circle.

S – I think transport didn’t make it because there’s a fair amount of corruption, so money doesn’t make it onto the books and therefore sales, profits and assets are never recorded, so it’s a mystery. That’s the problem with non-transparency.

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