In this article, we will be looking at the largest companies in Africa, ranked by market capitalisation. Africa is the poorest continent in the world, with the large majority of its countries being developing countries. This means the largest companies in Africa are smaller than elsewhere in the world. However, this does not mean traders should neglect these companies. Good knowledge of Africa’s largest companies can be vital for traders to gain an edge in the market.
Interestingly, all ten of the companies on this list are South African companies. This is likely due to South Africa being the second largest economy in Africa, behind only Nigeria, while being one of just eight upper-middle-income economies in Africa. It is also the most industrialised and technologically advanced country on the continent, with this advantageous economic atmosphere helping larger companies thrive more than in other African countries.
How do we define the largest?
It is important for us to establish how we are ranking these companies. Yes, we are ranking the largest companies, but what does this mean, and how can we measure this? We will use market capitalisation as our measure, which is the market value of a companies outstanding shares. This is effectively the equity value of a company and can show the public’s opinion on a company’s overall value. Market capitalisation is calculated simply by multiplying the price of the companies shares by the number of outstanding shares there are of that company. This market capitalisation value is important for investors to have knowledge of, in order to make sound decisions when investing and trading.
10 Largest African Companies
|Rank||Company||Country||Market Capitalisation ($billions)|
|3||Standard Bank Group||South Africa||15.85|
|4||MTN Group||South Africa||12.93|
|5||Capitec Bank||South Africa||12.32|
|8||Impala Platinum||South Africa||8.84|
|9||Gold Fields||South Africa||7.45|
Data from CompaniesMarketCap.com as of 27/10/2022
These companies may not be as recognisable to the average person as the largest companies in other continents or countries. This can make it even more important for traders to gain background knowledge of them and establish an advantage over the competition.
The largest company in Africa and the 611th largest in the world, Naspers is an internet, technology and multimedia holding company that operates globally. Founded in 1915, Naspers dominated the South African market throughout the 20th century, being the largest holding company with its main stakes in books, newspapers and magazines. Through the 1980s, the company began to globalise and diversify its assets, helping it become the multinational holdings company it is today.
It now holds a majority stake of its investment subsidiary Prosus, which deals with Naspers internet interest, including payments, social media platforms, food deliveries, along with many other responsibilities. They also own Africa’s largest publishing company, Media24, this also encompasses South Africa’s largest online retailer Takealot. This has been built upon by the establishment of the companies venture capital fund that focuses on South African projects, the Naspers Foundry. Naspers Foundry is used to invest into start-up companies within the country, helping to build and scale them into larger, more profitable enterprises.
Second on the list is FirstRand Limited or FirstRand Group, the holdings company of South African-based FirstRand Bank. The bank was founded all the way back in 1838 and had its roots as an investment bank up until the 1970s, but was restructured into the holding company it is today in 1998. The company is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa and it has the claim of being the largest financial institution in all of Africa. The Reserve Bank of South Africa has licenced FirstRand Bank as a financial service provider.
The company operates as a retail and commercial bank, while also offering other services to consumers such as asset management, insurance services and investments. The Bank operates in its own domestic market, but also throughout sub-Saharan Africa, along with India and the UK. This is reflected by its other branches being located in London, Guernsey and India.
3. Standard Bank Group
Number three on the list is another financial services group, Standard Bank Group Limited. It is the largest lender by assets in all of Africa and is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and London Stock Exchange (LSE). Much like FirstRand, Standard Bank Group is another financial institution that was founded a long time ago, back in 1862, with its headquarters today also being in Johannesburg. It operates in 20 African countries including its domestic market, offering various financial services to its customers, while also conducting its own operations. Standard Bank Group employs over 54,000 people, as of 2016.
4. MTN Group
MTN Group Limited comes on fourth on our list. It is the eighth-largest telecommunications company in the world and the largest in Africa with over 280 million subscribers. The mobile network operator operates from its head office in Johannesburg, offering its services to 20 countries throughout Africa and the Middle East. MTN Group has a large interest in Africa’s most populated country, Nigeria, having around 35% market share, which accounts for over one-third of the companies revenue.
The group was founded in 1994 and markets itself regionally and globally through the sponsorship of several major sports teams, such as the South African national rugby union team along with Manchester United FC and the Zambian super league. MTN Group has multiple subsidiaries such as Vistafone and SuperSonic, while employing over 19,000 people as of 2020.
5. Capitec Bank
The fifth-largest company in Africa by market capitalisation is Capitec Bank. It was founded relatively recently in 2001 but is the second largest bank in South Africa in terms of the number of customers, gaining an estimated 120,000 customers that open new accounts every month. Capitec Bank operates as a retail bank for both individuals and consumers but does not provide business banking services for closed corporations, partnerships, companies or trusts. The bank is run from Stellenbosch, South Africa and totals over 15 million customers spread across its 852 branches. It operates thousands of ATMs across the country and caters to the majority of its customers through mobile and online banking, with most customers only paying small fees and the company claiming to attempt to simplify banking and the banking experience for consumers.
Next on our list is the Western African mobile communications company, Vodacom Group limited. Vodafone, which western traders may be more familiar with. is Vodacom’s parent company who now own a 60.5% stake in the company, with the rest being listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). Vodacom provides messaging, internet, telecom, text and data services to over 130 million consumers throughout 48 African countries. The company was founded in 1994 and is currently South Africa’s leading cellular network provider, with an estimated market share of 58%. Vodacom was the second network to provide 5G networks to parts of Africa, starting in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town. They also employ the tactic of sponsoring various sports teams for marketing, with their most lucrative deal being the title sponsor of the Super Rugby tournament in South Africa since 1996.
In the number seven spot we have Sasol Limited, who were founded in Sasolburg in 1950 and are now headquartered in Sandton, South Africa. The energy and chemical company does business in 33 countries, including its domestic South Africa and is listed on the JSE and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), being the 1281st most valuable company in the world. Sasol employees over 30,000 people globally and is the largest corporate tax payer in South Africa. Being the seventh largest coal mining company in the world, Sasol has many investment groups as shareholders, one of which being the Government Employee Pension Fund.
8. Impala Platinum
The eighth largest company in Africa is Impala Platinum Holdings Limited. As the company’s name suggests, they own several other companies that mine platinum and other metals such as nickel, cobalt and copper. Impala Platinum own several significant mines throughout South Africa and Africa in general with the most important of these being the Impala mine in the North West province of South Africa. Other significant mines include the Marula and Two Rivers mines also located in South Africa along with Mimoa mine in Zimbabwe. Impala Platinum generated a revenue of R35.9 billion in 2018 and employs over 40,000 people. The company was founded 53 years ago in 1966 and went public on the JSE in 1973. Legislation introduced in 1970 benefitted the company by raising vehicle standards globally, increasing the demand for platinum to reduce vehicle emissions.
9. Gold Fields
Gold Fields Limited IS Number nine on the list AND is one of the worlds largest gold mining firms. The company was founded way back in 1887 by Cecil Rhodes and then became the firm it is today through its merger with Gencor. Gold Fields is listed on both the JSE and the NYSE and operates mines globally, with key countries being South Africa, Ghana, Australia and Peru. There have been various instances where the companies operations have gone wrong and there have been negative environmental impacts. The most significant of these were from 2001, 2003 and 2012, mostly involving contaminated water spillages from mines.
The final company on our list and the tenth largest in Africa is Shoprite Holdings Limited. Shoprite is Africa’s largest supermarket retailer, with it operating more than 2,989 stores across the continent. The company is a massive employer, with over 145,000 staff as of July 2022, being South Africa’s largest private sector employer. The supermarket retailer is headquartered from Brackenfell in the Western Cape of South Africa and is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. The group was founded in 1979 when PEP stores purchased eight grocery stores from the Rogut family, opening their first store abroad in 1990 in Namibia and expanding ever since to be the billion-dollar business it is today.
We hope this article has given you an insight into Africa’s and South Africa’s ten largest companies in terms of market capitalisation. This can hopefully be used as a stepping stone into new markets many traders may not have explored.
Now, you know enough to start trading African stocks with Hantec Markets.