Page last updated at 13:10 GMT, Thursday, 9 July 2009 14:10 UK

Shell beats Wal-Mart as top firm

Shell, Exxon and Wal-Mart logos

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has replaced US retail group Wal-Mart as the world's largest company, the latest annual survey by Fortune magazine says.

There are also fewer US corporations in the list of the 500 biggest firms than at any time since the publication started keeping records in 1995.

The annual survey ranks the largest companies by revenues, not profits.

The new list gives ammunition to those who believe the US's top dog status in the global economy is under threat.

For the first time in 10 years, the biggest firm is not from the US.

Royal Dutch Shell: $458bn
Exxon Mobil: $442bn
Wal-Mart Stores: $406bn
BP $367bn
Chevron: $263bn
Source: Fortune 500 survey

Anglo-Dutch firm Shell has pipped US rival Exxon Mobil and Wal-Mart to the top slot.

Forbes said Shell's annual revenues were $458bn, roughly the same as the national income of Saudi Arabia. Exxon's profits however are greater than Shell's, at $45.2bn compared with $26.2bn.

Oil firms dominate

There are also fewer US companies in the biggest 500 than in any previous survey.

China has more firms listed than before, and for the first time a Chinese company - Sinopec, an energy supplier - is in the top 10.

But the US still has 140 firms in the list while China's tally is just 37.

The latest survey also confirms the dominance of oil companies, with seven in the top 10, despite the steep drop in crude prices in the past year.

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