Top 20 Biggest Companies in the UK
The UK is the fifth-largest economy in the world and offers the ability to invest in a diverse range of companies listed on the London Stock Exchange.
From blue-chip stocks to penny stocks the UK stock market is home to some of the most well-known companies in the world.
Below is a list of the biggest companies in the UK by market cap and how to invest in them.
Biggest Companies in the UK
|2||Shell||SHEL||Oil and gas||£159.30 billion|
|4||Unilever||ULVR||Consumer Goods||£105.04 billion|
|5||BP||BP.||Oil and gas||£83.45 billion|
|8||British American Tobacco||BATS||Tobacco||£74.05 billion|
|9||Rio Tinto||RIO||Mining||£68.24 billion|
|11||Anglo American||AAL||Mining||£48.10 billion|
|12||Reckitt Benckiser||RKT||Consumer goods||£43.93 billion|
|14||National Grid||NG.||Utilities||£38.366 billion|
|16||Lloyds Banking Group||LLOY||Finance||£33.06 billion|
|17||London Stock Exchange||LSEG||Finance||£32.30 billion|
|20||Compass Group||CPG||Consumer Discretionary||£29.15 billion|
Source: London Stock Exchange, 26 May 2023.
All of these companies are constituents of the FTSE 100 stock market index. This index tracks the largest 100 stocks listed on the London Stock Exchange. You can learn more in the ‘How to Trade the FTSE 100’ guide.
How to Invest in the Biggest UK Companies
1. Open an account. You can choose from:
b. Trade.MT5 Account. This allows you to trade CFDs (contracts for differences) on UK shares. This product allows you to trade long and short and potentially profit from rising and falling markets while using leverage.
c. Demo Account. You can open a demo account and trade in a virtual environment to practice your skills until you are ready to go live.
2. Choose your instrument. You can choose from:
a. Trade CFDs on over 200 of the UK’s largest companies.
b. Invest in over 300 of the UK’s largest companies.
c. Trade the FTSE 100 index which tracks the biggest UK companies by market cap.
3. Start trading!
You can also keep up to date with all the latest market movements in three live trading webinars hosted every week by expert traders.
Let’s have a look at the top 10 biggest companies in the UK in more detail.
1. AstraZeneca (AZN)
AstraZeneca is a pharmaceutical company that was formed in 1999. The British-Swedish multinational company is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies specialising in healthcare areas such as cancer research, neuroscience and respiratory and autoimmune diseases.
The company’s headquarters are at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus – the largest health and medical research centre in Europe. The company’s share price is listed on the London Stock Exchange with secondary listings in Stockholm and the US.
During the pandemic, AstraZeneca partnered with Oxford University to develop a vaccine against Covid-19. The company has more than 76,100 employees and recorded revenues of $37.41 billion in 2021, growing to $44.35 billion in 2022.
2. Shell (SHEL)
Shell is one of the world’s most well-known companies. The oil and gas giant was formed in 1890 and is one of the most profitable companies in the world, regularly ranked in the top 10 Fortune 500 Global list.
For years the company was known as Royal Dutch Shell due to its roots in London and Amsterdam. However, at the beginning of 2022, the company relocated their headquarters to London, abandoned its dual share structure and changed its name to Shell PLC.
The company has more than 86,000 employees around the world and recorded $261.5 billion in revenue in 2021, growing to $381.3 billion in revenue in 2022. Shell’s stock price collapsed to 30-year lows during the pandemic but a recovery in oil prices has seen its share price recover more than 50% of its pandemic decline.
3. HSBC (HSBA)
HSBC is one of the largest multinational banks in the world. The company operates in more than 60 countries, serving more than 40 million companies. Founded in 1865 it is now the second-largest bank in Europe. While its roots lie in Hong Kong, it is headquartered in London.
The bank operates three divisions: Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets, Wealth and Personal Banking. Across the world, the bank employs more than 219,000 individuals and recorded revenue of $49.55 billion in 2021 and $51.70 billion in 2022, with $10.8 trillion in assets under custody.
4. Unilever (ULVR)
Unilever is a British-Dutch company founded in 1929. The consumer goods group owns more than 400 brands which are household names in food, personal and home products. Brands include Hellmann’s, Knorr, Lipton, Magnum, Ben and Jerry’s, Dove, Persil, Vaseline and many others.
Unilever shares trade on the London Stock Exchange but also has a secondary listing on Euronext Amsterdam. The stock is a constituent of the FTSE 100 and AEX 25 indexes. The company employs more than 149,000 people around the world and recorded revenues of €52.44 billion in 2021 growing to €60.07 billion in 2022.
5. BP PLC (BP)
BP, formerly known as The British Petroleum Company, was founded in 1902. The oil and gas giant operates in five continents and in nearly 80 countries. The company operates in all areas of oil and gas including exploration, extraction, refining, distribution, marketing and trading.
The company’s shares trade on the London Stock Exchange with a secondary listing on the New York Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. BP produces nearly 4 million barrels of oil per day and recorded revenues of $164.19 billion in 2021, growing massively to $241.4 billion in 2022.
6. Diageo (DGE)
Diageo is a global beverage company founded in 1997. The company is one of the world’s largest distillers and owns more than 200 brands such as Guinness, Bailey’s, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and many more. Most of its revenue comes from the production of scotch and beer.
The company holds a 34% stake in Moet Hennessy which is part of French company LVMH. Diageo’s shares trade on the London Stock Exchange and have a secondary listing on the New York Stock Exchange. Revenues topped £19.15 billion in 2021 with roughly the same in 2022.
7. GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
GlaxoSmithKline is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies with roots traced back to 1715. The company’s current form was formed through a merger between four pharmaceutical companies in 2000. It developed the first malaria vaccine and many of its products are considered to be essential medicines by the World Health Organization.
The company is involved in the research, development and manufacturing of vaccines and medicines and operates a large consumer goods division. 2021 revenues came in at £34.11 billion falling to £29.3 billion in 2022 with the stock trading on the London Stock Exchange and a with a secondary listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
8. British American Tobacco (BATS)
British American Tobacco was founded in 1902. It is a global manufacturer and retailer of tobacco but recently has shifted towards new products such as vapes. Even though fewer people are smoking cigarettes, British American Tobacco is still the largest tobacco manufacturer in the world with relatively stable revenue.
The company’s shares trade on the London Stock Exchange, as well as the New York Stock Exchange, Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the Nairobi Stock Exchange. In 2021, revenue came in at £25.68 billion growing to £27.65 billion in 2022.
9. Rio Tinto (RIO)
Rio Tinto is an Anglo-Australian mining company founded in 1873. The company is the world’s largest producer of precious metals such as gold, iron, copper, aluminium and diamonds. Its shares trade on the London Stock Exchange with secondary listings on the Australian Securities Exchange and New York Stock Exchange.
The stock is a component of the FTSE 100 and S&P/ASX 200 stock market indexes. While Rio Tinto – along with other mining companies – struggled during the pandemic, the share price went on to reach record highs in 2021 with revenues for the year at $63.49 billion falling to $55.6 billion in 2022.
10. Glencore (GLEN)
Glencore is an Anglo-Swiss commodity trading and mining company that was created through the merger of Glencore and Xstrata in 2013. The company was originally founded in 1974 and is one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of commodities with a 2021 revenue of $203.75 billion growing to $255.98 billion in 2022.
The company controls 60% of tradable zinc and 50% of tradable copper. However, the company supplies metals, minerals, oil, coal, natural gas and other products. The stock trades on the London Stock Exchange and has another listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
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FAQs on the UK's Biggest Companies
What is the UK's biggest company?
The UK's biggest company is currently pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, followed by Shell, HSBC, Unilever and BP.
What is the largest company in the UK market cap?
The largest company in the UK market cap is AstraZeneca which has a market cap of more than £180.43 billion. Shell is the second largest company in the UK with a market cap of £159.30 billion.
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