In this article we are going to list the 15 largest French companies by market cap in 2020. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 5 largest French companies by market cap in 2020.
France is one of the most visited countries in Europe, and even the world topping the list of most visited countries in the world, and when you speak of France, it conjures images of the Eiffel Tower, The Arc de Triomphe, vineyards in the South of France and even more clichés, all of which you can see in the latest Netflix series Emily in Paris.
Because of this romantic image that France has in the minds of many, and the popular myth that France runs away from wars and forfeits at the first instance, people forget that this is actually one of the strongest countries in the world, both in terms of its military and also due to its strong GDP and the standard of living afforded to most of its citizens. It is one of the few nuclear powers in the world, being among the 7 confirmed countries to have nuclear weapons in addition to the US, Russia, China, Pakistan, India and the UK. Israel and North Korea are rumored to have nuclear weapons as well, though that is not yet completely confirmed.
France has the seventh biggest economy in the world, which is only second to Germany in Europe. The economy of France is extremely diversified and is free market oriented, and is dominated by the services sector which makes up close to 80% of the total GDP of the country. The industrials sector makes up around 19.5% of the GDP and the remaining is taken up by the primary sector. It is also the fifth largest trading nation in the world. In 2020, it was the biggest recipient of Foreign Direct Investment in all of Europe, while it is also the second highest spender in Europe for research and development. In fact, according to the Bloomberg Innovation Index, it is currently among the 10 most innovative countries in the world and considered to be the 15th most competitive country in the world as well. It also ranks very highly in the Human Development Index, the standards of livings and list of countries ranked by happiness.
France has a healthy GDP per capita of $42,878 and on a city level, Paris has one of the highest GDPs in the world along with New York City and Tokyo. The Central Business District of Paris, named La Défense is called Europe's leading business district, ranking in fourth on a global level.
All the aforementioned statistics have been displayed to build upon the fact that France has one of the most thriving economies in the world and is an excellent platform for companies to develop and grow in stature. Because of the way Europe works, including its culture, traditions and rule and regulations, companies in the continent are generally not allowed the freedom that companies outside are allowed, especially in the US and even China, where most of the biggest companies are conglomerates owned by the state. Higher taxes in Europe are another dissuasion for companies to grow. However, despite these limitations, there are also tons of opportunities for growth, because of which France has companies worth hundreds of billions of dollars. In fact, the top 15 largest French companies by market cap actually top $1 trillion in value. France has 4 companies in the top 100 companies in the world by market cap, with these companies also making the list of largest European companies by market cap in 2020.
Unfortunately, in 2020, everything has gone a bit topsy-turvy as the Covid pandemic has hit the world. The Covid-19 pandemic is the worst in approximately a century and has infected over 55 million people while more than 1.3 million people have died as well. While the virus originated in China, it quickly spread and Europe was the biggest epicenter when it was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. France was one of the countries along with Italy, Spain and the UK to bear the brunt of the hit of the virus, as tens of thousands died and hundreds of thousands were infected. A strict national lockdown was enforced, which while successful in reducing the spread of the virus, also devastated the economy, resulting in many businesses going belly-up. France had already faced a tough 2019 with a global slowdown and significant disruption due to the yellow vest movement, and the pandemic ensured that it moved into a recession, with tens if not hundreds of thousands of jobs lost. In the last few months, Covid cases started rising across Europe once again, with daily cases in France alone crossing 50,000. It has now become the first European company to surpass 2 million cases and has gone into a national lockdown once again to try and counter the impact of the pandemic, but many companies have made significant losses and cut thousands of employees. Even then, let's take a look at the 15 largest French companies by market cap in 2020, which are also the companies most likely to be able to navigate through the pandemic, starting with number 15:
15. Dassault Systems
Market cap of the company (in billions of dollars): 48.16
The company is engaged in software and specializes in software for 3D products. It is a spinoff of Dassault Aviation and had revenues of over 4 billion euros in 2019.
Market cap of the company (in billions of dollars): 52.65
It is one of the oldest companies in this list at 204 years old, and is an insurance firm which engages in global insurance as well as financial services and investment management.
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Market cap of the company (in billions of dollars): 57.21
Vinci is a construction company and was founded in 1899. It had revenues of 48 billion euros in 2019 and is involved in some of the biggest infrastructure projects in France.
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Market cap of the company (in billions of dollars): 59.12
It is the result of a merger between an Italian and a French company, and is one of the leading companies in prescription glasses and sunglasses. In fact, nearly all of the famous optical brands you know are owned by this group, including Rayban, Michael Kors, Oakley and LensCrafter.
11. BNP Paribas
Market cap of the company (in billions of dollars): 59.94
A French international banking group, it is the world's 8th largest bank by total assets and has a presence in at least 72 countries across the globe. It was founded in 1848 and by market cap, is the largest bank in France. Company's top competitors include Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), Barclays (NYSE:BCS) and Citi (NYSE:C).
Market cap of the company (in billions of dollars): 61.46
Safran is an aircraft engine, rocket engine and defense company which is one of the largest aviation companies in Europe, if not the world. Safran had revenues of 24.64 billion euros and has 95,000 employees as well. It is one of the most recent companies in this list, having only been founded in 2015.
9. Air Liquide
Market cap of the company (in billions of dollars): 77.94
Air Liquide provides industrial gases and in fact after Linde, another European company, is the largest gas supplier in the world. In 2019, it earned revenues of nearly 22 billion euros and has over 66,000 employees as well.
8. Schneider Electric
Market cap of the company (in billions of dollars): 78.53
Schneider Electric provides energy to residential, commercial and industrial sectors and is the biggest power company in France, with revenues of 27.2 billion euros in 2019. The company has around 135,000 employees.
Market cap of the company (in billions of dollars): 90.75
Dior is a French luxury goods company, which has perhaps the most entries in the list of largest French companies by market cap. Dior is headed by Bernard Arnault, who is among the top 20 richest people in the entire world right now. The company has over 163,000 employees.
Market cap of the company (in billions of dollars): 90.85
Kering is a luxury goods manufacturer, of which you will see many in France and especially in Paris, which is often considered to be the luxury goods capital of the world. The company was founded 57 years ago in 1963 and had revenues of nearly 16 billion euros in 2019. It has 38,000 employees and assets in excess of 27 billion euros.