An expat’s guide to the top Fortune Global 500 companies in Switzerland
Switzerland boasts a booming economy across a wide range of industrial sectors. It is home to 14 companies on the Fortune Global 500, which ranks the top corporations on its annual list based on company revenue at the end of each fiscal year. Unlike the Fortune 500, which is exclusively for US corporations, the Fortune Global 500 is a worldwide measure of success.
For expatriates moving to Switzerland, these companies can offer good job opportunities and the chance to develop a strong career in a globally successful business. Here we explore the current rankings of Swiss companies on the Fortune Global 500 list by sector, based on the latest data from 2017.
Finance and banking
Switzerland has a strong financial and banking industry, which is reflected in the Fortune Global 500. A number of well-known financial corporations have their headquarters in Zurich. This includes the Zurich Insurance Group (112), which is the highest-ranked of all financial corporations on the list. With over 50,000 employees, it also offers many opportunities for expatriates who wish to work in a European financial centre.
Other financial organisations that make the top 500 include insurance groups Swiss Re (220) and Chubb (342), both of which are also based in Zurich. In banking, both UBS Group (291) and Credit Suisse Group (354) make the list.
Outside of the financial and economic centre that is Zurich, Switzerland has a strong manufacturing and production industry. For expatriates with relevant skills and experience, this sector offers many job opportunities.
The highest-ranked Swiss company across any industry is Glencore (16), which is involved in mining and crude oil production. It is based in Baar in the canton of Zug, a picturesque region surrounded by lakes and mountains. LafargeHolcim (398) manufactures building materials and glass, and has its headquarters in Jona. With over 90,000 employees, it’s a large-scale operation. Even bigger is ABB (314), which trades in industrial machinery and is based in Zurich. It has over 130,000 employees and it is featured in Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies List.
Other key sectors
There are some well-known Swiss names on the Fortune Global 500 list, but probably the best known is Nestlé (64), the world’s largest food company. While the company has a strong global reputation, its headquarters are in Vevey. The pretty town in the canton of Vaud on the north shore of Lake Geneva has been associated with Nestlé since 1867.
Pharmaceuticals are also a big business in Switzerland, with two large corporations making the Fortune Global 500 list. Roche Group (169) and Novartis (186) both have their headquarters in Basel. Located on the Upper Rhine, Basel attracts many expatriates for work thanks to its strong economy. It is a major centre for chemical and pharmaceutical companies, but it is particularly well known for its work in life sciences. The area is part of BioValley, one of the world’s leading life sciences regions, which expands into Germany and France.
Two other corporations make the Fortune Global 500 list for the 2017 fiscal year. Coop Group (392), a chain of food supermarkets and retailers, also based in Basel; and Adecco Group (434), based in Glattbrugg.
The Fortune Global 500 list is a good reflection of the calibre of companies based in Switzerland and the many opportunities expatriates can explore when looking to relocate to the country.
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