ING Erasmus Top 100 international firms

On 18 December, ING’s Economics Department in cooperation with the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University in the Netherlands, published the “ING Erasmus Top 100 International firms” report, a global listing of non-financial companies ranked by their degree of internationalisation.

The ranking is based on the estimated absolute size of their assets outside their home (headquarter) country. In this respect, it is quite distinct from most existing global rankings of companies, which do not distinguish between the companies’ domestic and international activities.


Summary of the results

The US is the most strongly represented country, with 23 companies, but European companies dominate the Top 100 with 59 entries. Within Europe, the UK is the most strongly represented, with 16 companies (including 2 Anglo-Dutch companies and 1 Anglo-Australian), followed by France with 14 and Germany with 11. European companies have relatively small domestic markets, which prompted them to internationalize relatively early. But their high and sustained internationalization level also indicates an inherent competitive strength.


“This report gives you a flavour of the rich data and insights that we have collected over the years on corporate strategies. By highlighting the geographical origin of firms, industry composition, and changes over time, the top 100 list provides business leaders around the world with relevant benchmarks to compare their own international ambitions.” Prof.dr. Rob van Tulder, Erasmus University

The 10 most international firms account for more than one quarter of the total foreign assets of the Top 100. 61% of total sales is obtained abroad and 56% of the total number of employees is employed abroad. Most firms in the Top 100 are more focused on foreign than on their home markets but foreign expansion remains primarily targeted in their own region. With a share of 14%, the oil and gas industry is the single most important sector of the Top 100.



Since the start of the financial crisis in 2007, cross-border direct investment flows in general went down, whereas:

  • the total amount of foreign assets of the Top 100 increased by almost 30%
  • the top 5 of most international firms remained relatively stable with General Electric ranking first again
  • the top 3 risers on this list are all European companies with Novartis having experienced the biggest progress
  • the top 3 fallers were also all European with Deutsche Post showing the biggest drop in the Top 100
  • 25 new entrants appeared in the top 100 with China National Petroleum Corporation as the highest ranked new entrant (10th)
  • Japan had the highest number of dropouts (3), while the US showed the highest number of new entrants (7).