Who Owns the World? Tracing Half the Corporate Giants’ Shares to 30 Owners

CAPITALISM, 17 April 2017

David Peetz and Georgina Murray | Griffith University – The Conversation

BlackRock Inc is relatively unknown outside financial circles, but it owns the largest share in the biggest 299 companies in the world. Edward Munoz/Reuters

11 Apr 2017 – When people say share ownership is highly diversified, they think most large public corporations have lots of shareholders – and often the largest shareholder has less than 15%, sometimes less than 5%, of the total shareholdings.

But looking at it this way obscures the concentration that is taking place. The same organisations – usually finance capital, rarely families or individuals – own these public companies. We (David and Georgina) first researched this in 2009, and we’ve since found that the trend is of increasing concentration in several countries over three decades.

When one organisation alone controls more than 6% of shares in very large global corporations, and 30 control more than half of all shares in these corporations, that signifies very high concentration.

Our 2009 study found that various forms of financial capital controlled the great majority (68.4%) of shares in the world’s very large corporations. Individuals or families held only a minimal proportion (3.3%), and industrial companies held relatively little.

Banks were the most common specific type of individual or organisation that controlled the shareholdings in very large corporations.

Types of shareholders in very large corporations by assets held, 2009

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