It’s been said numerous times that London is the financial capital of the world, so it’s no wonder that some of the biggest companies in the world have headquarters here. The top 25 companies based in London employ thousands of people in the city, and millions throughout the world. These companies do business in the banking sectors, securities, insurance, oil and gas, etc. While some of the companies on the list are practically household names, there are a few names that are mostly known in certain circles. For example, everyone has heard of British Petroleum (BP), GlaxoSmithKline, but you probably never heard of Unilever, despite it being a major player. Companies such as Google, Microsoft also have large and important offices in the city of London. Pretty much every major public company has to be present in this city, otherwise their market share is bound to decline. These companies are worth tens of billions of dollars, and they make profits that are unimaginable by most of us. The banks have come under fire ever since the 2008 crash, and oil companies like BP are often criticized for their negative impact on the environment, but the fact is these companies are here to stay, for now anyway. Without further ado, here are our picks of the top 25 London based companies.
The company was originally founded by Thomas Sutherland in 1865, and today it represents one of the largest and single most important banks in the world. Its headquarters are located in Canary Wharf in London. They employ more than 260,000 people throughout the world, and the company’s worth in equity in 2015 was a staggering 531 billion dollars. Their subsidiaries are located in several different counties in the world, and the company’s profit for last year was just over 15 billion dollars.
Visiting address: Canary Wharf, 8 Canada Square, London
Commonly called Shell, this Dutch company was founded in 1907, and over its 100 years of existence it has grown into one of the most successful companies in the world. Oil and gas is a lucrative field, but only the strongest survive on the market. According to stats in 2015, the company employs around 94,000 people, and their profit for last year amounted to 14.8 billion dollars. Their London offices are called the Shell Center.
Visiting address: Shell Center, London, SE1 7NA
British Petroleum’s image in the world has been damaged after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but for a company this size, it’s business as usual. They employ roughly 80,000 people in the world, and their profits amounted to four billions dollars in 2014. In 2015 the company agreed to pay a fine of 19 billion dollars on numerous counts of negligence, lying to Congress, and other criminal charges. However they still have operations running in more than eighty countries.
Visiting address: 1 St James’s Square, London, SW1Y 4PD
Barclays is probably the largest universal bank of its kind in the world. It has operations in investment banking, wholesale crediting, as well as retail. In the beginning of 2012 the company had assets worth 2.4 trillion dollars. Not billion, but trillions! So far on the list, it’s also the company with the longest history. It was founded in 1690 in London, which is where the headquarters of the company still sits. In 2014 they employed 130,000 people. It operates in fifty countries around the world, and has more than 48 million clients.
Visiting address: 1 Churchill Place, London, E14 5HP
By now it’s clear why they call London the financial capital of the world, because there’s another bank on the list. Lloyds bought HBOS in 2009, and the company emerged with its current name, Lloyd TSB Group. The bank employs around 90,000 people globally, and in 2014 it had a net income of 1.5 billion dollars. The company deals in all spheres of banking, but they are also a major insurance player, and are fairly popular when it comes to pension options.
Visiting address: 33 Old Broad St, London
Founded in 2000, GSK has become the sixth biggest pharmaceutical company. In 2015 the company had the fifth best market capitalization success on the LSE. Globally they employ almost 100,000 people, and in 2014 they had a revenue of 35 billion dollars. In recent years the company was hit with a scandal when it was found out that they’ve been paying doctors to promote their drugs. The case ended with the world’s biggest health care related fraud settlement.
Visiting address: 980 Great West Rd, Middlesex, TW8 9GS
After the merger between CGU and Norwich Union in 2000 Aviva was born. Its headquarters are located in London, in the St Helen’s Tower to be more specific. Aviva is one of the largest multinational insurance companies in the world. They employ 28,000 people in total, and in 2014 their reported revenue was almost 44 billion dollars. Their subsidiaries include Aviva Group Ireland, RAC Limited, Hibernian Group, and many others. It’s the second biggest insurer in the country of Canada, and in recent years focuses heavily on the Chinese market.
Visiting address: St. Helen’s, 1 Undershaft, London, EC3P 3DQ
Chances are that every person in the world has at least once bought some of Unilever’s goods or brands. They own more than 400 brands in total, but their most well-known brand names include Knorr, Dove, Axe, Rexona, Lipton, etc. The company was originally founded in 1930 after a merger between a Dutch butter and margarine maker and a soap maker from Britain. They employ more than 170,000 staff in the world, and their reported profits for 2015 were 5.5 billion dollars.
Visiting address: Unilever House, Victoria Embankment, London, EC4Y 0DY
If it weren’t for the huge Chinese market, Vodafone Group would be the single largest telecommunications company in the world. China Mobile is the leading company when it comes to the number of clients and subscribers. Vodafone was founded in 1991, and today it employs just over 100,000 people. In 2015 their assets reached a value of over 120 billion dollars, and in 2012 it was the company with the third largest market capitalization on the LSE. Vodafone has operations in every major country in the world, with only three European countries where they don’t have a presence.
Visiting address: Paddington Central, London, W2 6BY
Precious metals have always been in high demand on the market, and in the past few decades this trend has been quite stable. Mobile phones, computers, and other more sophisticated equipment that needs to have silver, gold, or even platinum in it. Anglo American is the world’s most important platinum producer. More than one third of all the platinum comes from this company’s output. Despite its size and recent financial success, in 2015 the company recorded a loss of three billion dollars in the first half, which lead to a massive restructuring programe in which they cut 85,000 jobs.
Visiting address: 20 Carlton House Terrace, London
Depending on which country you live in, most of us have probably been inside a Tesco market at least once. It is one of the three most successful retail operations in the world, and they employ a staggering 500,000 people in total. It was in the mid ‘90s when the company decided to change its business model, which ultimately lead to the company’s current status and success. In 2015 they reported revenue exceeding 60 billion pounds.
Prudential is another massive insurance company that makes it onto our list. Since they started operating in Asia, they have become one of the three largest insurance providers in Vietnam, Hong Kong, India, and other countries. In 2014 they reported a net income of just over 2 billion pounds. The company actually has a fairly long 168-year history behind. It was founded in London in 1848.
The Pharmaceutical businesses around the world are sometimes under scrutiny for their actions on the market, especially in places like the US where drugs sometimes cost much more than in other places. However, it would be impossible to imagine a world without these pharmaceutical giants, as they provide people with state of the art drugs and treatments. AstraZaneca employs around 50,000 people, their net income in 2015 was 1.23 billion dollars. They pride themselves on being one of the leading science based companies in the world.
Visiting address: 2 Kingdom St, London, W2 6BD
As we previously already mentioned, precious metals are crucial for the world economy. Rio Tinto is a multinational mining giant that employs about 60,000 people worldwide. They do business in over 40 countries which have been proven to be rich with minerals. In 2014 the company reported a profit of 6.5 billion dollars, which makes it one of the most profitable business in mining. The company also owns railroads, ships, and ports which allows them to be more efficient in transporting the minerals from their mines.
Visiting address: 6 St James’s Square, London, SW1Y 4AD
BT has operations on more than 170 countries around the world, which is quite a staggering fact if you think about it. It’s one of the most respected companies in the world in the telecommunications business. In 2015 they had revenue estimated at 17.8 billion pounds, with a decent profit of 3.7 billion. Most of these profits were generates by their subsidiary called Openreach. BT employs about 88,500 people throughout the world.
Visiting address: 81 Newgate Street, City of London, EC1A 7AJ
When it comes to baking, no one does it better than the Swiss. UBS has operations in fifty countries around the world, with almost 900 offices. UBS is a massive financial player on the market, so it’s only natural that it has important headquarters in London as well. The company’s revenue is measured in the billions per year, and they have a work force of roughly 60,000 worldwide.
Visiting address: 1 Finsbury Avenue, London, EC2M 2PP
While tobacco consumption is mostly going down in western countries, it’s still business that’s showing more than enough profit. BAT (British American Tobacco) is one of the largest companies of its kind in the world, and its headquarters are located in, you guessed it, London. Their brands include Lucky Strike. Kent, and Dunhill. Today it’s common knowledge that cigarettes are bad for a person’s health, it’s still a lucrative business, and one that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Visiting address: Globe House, 4 Temple Place, London, WC2R 2PG
There are too many banks on our list, we know, but it’s just the reality of the situation that banks tend to be powerhouses in the world. The company has services which include everything from corporate banking, treasuries, and dealing with public finances as well. In 2014 the company had a reported income of 2.7 billion dollars. They also employ around 87,000 people in the 70 countries in which they have operations.
Visiting address: 1 Basinghall Avenue, London, EC2V 5DD
Did you ever wonder who is behind some of the most popular alcoholic beverages in the world? If so, we have the answer for you, it’s Diaego. Their brands include Smirnoff vodka, Hennessey, Baileys, Johnny Walker, and many others. The company has also become a major wine producer in its own right. In the Unites States alone, this one company has a market share of an amazing 25%. In 2014 the company’s revenue exceeded 13 billion dollars.
Visiting address: Lakeside Dr, London, NW10 7HQ
McDonalds is a brand which everyone has heard of in the world, and it wouldn’t be fair not including it on the list. In the UK they employ about 37,000 people, and globally they are one of the biggest employers. While the chain of restaurants might not serve the healthiest of foods, McDonalds is a huge player in the employment of people around the world.
Visiting address: 11-59 Finchley Road, London, N2 8AW
In the cruise line industry, there’s not a bigger player than Carnival Corp. The company has been criticized for underpaying its shipboard employees, and there have been reports that working conditions are strenuous with long shifts. Despite this, the company employs around 33,000 people on ships, and about 4000 shoreside. According to numbers from 2011, the company has equity in excess of 13 billion dollars, with a net income of 1.9 billion.
In the production process of creating stainless steel, one particular ingredient is crucial; ferrochrome. Xstrata is the world’s single largest producer of this alloy, but they also mine copper, zinc, nickel, and other precious metals. The company has mines in nineteen countries around the world. Xstrata was bought by the Glencore corporation in 2013, and they have plans so eventually phase out the Xstrata name. They employ around 70,000 people worldwide, with a net income of about 4.7 billion dollars.
Visiting address: 50 Berkeley Street, London, W1J 8HD
While it might seem out of place on the list, we think that the BBC most certainly deserves a spot. The British Broadcasting Corporation is the oldest national broadcasting company in the world. The BBC is regarded as one of the most important journalistic organizations in the world. It’s trusted, respected, and highly appreciated among the British people. The BBC employs 20,000 people, but when we include part time staff and contract based employees, that figure rises to about 36,000.
Visiting address: Broadcasting house, Egton Wing, Portland Place, London, W1A 1AA
Canonical can’t really be compared to most of the other companies on this list, it’s much smaller with revenue and profits being nowhere near. However, it deserves to be mentioned. I the Linux world Canonical is a major contributor. Ubuntu is the most popular version of Linux in the world. It will most likely never compete with companies like Apple and Microsoft, but sometimes it’s the little organizations that push an industry into a new revolution.
Visiting address: 110 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0SU
Richard Branson has always been considered to be a visionary, and when he decided to create his own airline no one would have thought it would turn into the success it is today. Virgin Airways employ around 10,000 people, and has a revenue of around 15 billion pounds. Virgin is regarded as one of the most fun airplane companies in the world, as they are everything but ordinary.
Visiting address: Manor Royal, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 9NU