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Big 3 banks, CapitaLand among 9 Singapore firms in Forbes Asia's Best Over A Billion list

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The nine Singapore firms are the Big Three banks, Wilmar International, CapitaLand, City Developments, Olam International, ASM Pacific Technology, and Venture Corporation.

NINE companies from Singapore have made it to Forbes Asia’s inaugural Best Over A Billion list which spotlights 200 top-performing listed companies across Asia-Pacific with revenues of US$1 billion or more.

They are the Republic’s Big Three banks, Wilmar International, CapitaLand, City Developments, Olam International, ASM Pacific Technology, and Venture Corporation.

The latest full-year revenues for the Singapore companies ranged from US$2.5 billion at ASM Pacific Technology to US$44.5 billion at Wilmar International, according to the list launched on Wednesday.

From a pool of 3,200 listed firms in the region, candidates were evaluated on metrics such as their average five-year sales, operating income growth, return on capital, and projected growth over the next one to two years. Those with the highest composite score earned a place in the final tally of 200.

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The largest Singapore companies featured are DBS, OCBC Bank and UOB, ranking 13th, 20th and 23rd respectively by market value within the Asia-Pacific.

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Topping the list by market value were behemoths hailing from the technology sector and headquartered in the region’s biggest markets.

They include Internet conglomerates Alibaba and Tencent from China, semiconductor giants Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and SK Hynix, as well as Japan’s Fast Retailing which operates the Uniqlo apparel chain.

Industries that dominated the list ranged over retail, real estate, banking, transportation, and food and beverage manufacturing.

A notable company is STO Express, the first courier service in China to go public in 2015. The Shenzhen-listed firm’s net profit rose 38 per cent in 2018 to 2.1 billion yuan (S$407 million) thanks to a 35 per cent spike in revenue, Forbes said.

India’s jewellery and watch retailer Titan saw its net profit climb 26 per cent to 13.9 billion rupees (S$270 million) for the year ended March 31, amid rising demand among Indian consumers for gold.

The Best Over A Billion list also highlights the connection between the best-run big companies and the wealthiest people in the region.

“Nearly two-thirds of the companies on this list are controlled by or connected to families or individuals who have appeared on Forbes Asia’s rich lists,” said Justin Doebele, editor of Forbes Asia.

An example is San Miguel Food and Beverage, which produces food products, beer and gin. Philippine billionaires Ramon Ang and Eduardo Cojuangco Jr are its biggest shareholders, and also chief executive officer and chairman respectively. Its shares have surged more than 20 per cent this year, outperforming the local stock market benchmark, Forbes noted.

Companies in fast-growth industries also made the cut. Recruit Holdings, Japan’s biggest employment search and recruiting company by market value, posted its third consecutive year of increased earnings. Its net profit rose nearly 15 per cent in the year ended March 31 to 174 billion yen (S$2.3 billion) on 2.3 trillion yen in revenue.

While companies from China, Japan and South Korea naturally dominated the list due to the larger candidate pool, many came from smaller markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, Forbes said.

The new Best Over A Billion list complements the Best Under A Billion list of the 200 best-performing small and medium-sized firms in the region with less than US$1 billion in revenue.