Inside the vault

The world’s top 50 companies in 2005 recorded a profit of $433 billion – up 27% from the previous year. More than a fifth were banks (22%) – just ahead of oil and gas companies (20%). Assessing the top transnationals solely by the value of the assets that they control, banks occupied over a gob-smacking half (56%) of the top 50 in 2005, and, when combined with diversified financial corporations (offering many of the services of modern-day banking), dominated the list (with 80%). Here’s a comparison of the size of the assets that just a few of these companies control:

Banks and their profits ($)

source: New Internationalist