Top 20 Biggest Companies in the UK

Jitanchandra Solanki
10 Min read

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 top British companies in the UK by market cap and how to invest in them.

Top 20 Biggest Companies in the UK

  Company Symbol Sector Market Cap
1 Shell SHEL Oil and gas £161.78 billion
2 AstraZeneca AZN Pharmaceuticals £147.28 billion
3 HSBC HSBA Finance £116.23 billion 
4 Unilever ULVR Consumer Goods £99.785 billion 
5 BP BP. Oil and gas £81.71 billion 
6 Diageo DGE Beverages £81.70 billion 
7 GlaxoSmithKline GSK Pharmaceuticals £76.52 billion 
British American Tobacco  BATS Tobacco £74.05 billion 
9 Rio Tinto RIO Mining £68.24 billion 
10 Glencore  GLEN  Mining  £55.69 billion 
11 Anglo American  AAL  Mining   £48.10 billion 
12 Reckitt Benckiser  RKT  Consumer Goods  £43.93 billion 
13 RELX  REL  Communications  £42.62 billion 
14 National Grid  NG.  Utilities  £38.366 billion 
15 Vodafone  VOD  Telecommunications  £35.08 billion 
16 Lloyds Banking Group  LLOY  Finance  £33.06 billion 
17 London Stock Exchange  LSEG  Finance  £32.30 billion 
18 Prudential  PRU  Finance  £30.63 billion 
19 Barclays  BARC  Finance  £30.06 billion 
20 Compass Group  CPG  Consumer Discretionary  £29.15 billion 

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. 

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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.

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, the company relocated their headquarters to London, abandoned its dual share structure and changed its name to Shell PLC.


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, and Wealth and Personal Banking. Across the world, the bank employs more than 219,000 individuals 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.

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.

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. 

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. The stock trades on the London Stock Exchange and 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.

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.

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.

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.

How to Invest in Top British Companies

With Admirals, you can invest in UK stocks and ETFs with a competitive commission of 0.1% of the total trade value and only a £1 minimum transaction fee. Here is how to get started in 3 steps:

1. Open an account. You can choose from: 

a. Invest.MT5 Account. This allows you to invest in UK shares and collect dividend payments to build a passive income stream. 

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! 

a. With Admirals, you can trade and invest from the MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 platforms for desktop, web and mobile while accessing a range of free premium analytical tools.

You can also keep up to date with all the latest market movements in three live trading webinars hosted every week by expert traders.

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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. 



The given data provides additional information regarding all analysis, estimates, prognosis, forecasts, market reviews, weekly outlooks or other similar assessments or information (hereinafter “Analysis”) published on the websites of Admirals investment firms operating under the Admirals trademark (hereinafter “Admirals”). Before making any investment decisions please pay close attention to the following:

  1. This is a marketing communication. The content is published for informative purposes only and is in no way to be construed as investment advice or recommendation. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research, and that it is not subject to any prohibition on dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research. 
  2. Any investment decision is made by each client alone whereas Admirals shall not be responsible for any loss or damage arising from any such decision, whether or not based on the content. 
  3. With view to protecting the interests of our clients and the objectivity of the Analysis, Admirals has established relevant internal procedures for prevention and management of conflicts of interest. 
  4. The Analysis is prepared by an independent analyst, Jitan Solanki, (hereinafter “Author”) based on personal estimations. 
  5. Whilst every reasonable effort is taken to ensure that all sources of the content are reliable and that all information is presented, as much as possible, in an understandable, timely, precise and complete manner, Admirals does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained within the Analysis. 
  6. Any kind of past or modelled performance of financial instruments indicated within the content should not be construed as an express or implied promise, guarantee or implication by Admirals for any future performance. The value of the financial instrument may both increase and decrease and the preservation of the asset value is not guaranteed. 
  7. Leveraged products (including contracts for difference) are speculative in nature and may result in losses or profit. Before you start trading, please ensure that you fully understand the risks involved.


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