One sign of the times is the growing number of companies from emerging markets that appear in the Fortune 500 rankings of the world’s biggest firms. It now stands at 62, mostly from the so-called BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China, up from 31 in 2003 (see chart 1), and is set to rise rapidly. On current trends, emerging-market companies will account for one-third of the Fortune list within ten years, predicts Mark Spelman, head of a global think-tank run by Accenture, a consultancy.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of emerging-market companies acquiring established rich-world businesses and brands (see chart 2), starkly demonstrating that “globalisation” is no longer just another word for “Americanisation”. Within the past year, Budweiser, America’s favourite beer, has been bought by a Belgian-Brazilian conglomerate. And several of America’s leading financial institutions avoided bankruptcy only by going cap in hand to the sovereign-wealth funds (state-owned investment funds) of various Arab kingdoms and the Chinese government.
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