Chinese firms still short of 'global admiration': Poll

Updated: 2013-03-02 02:42

By HE WEI (China Daily)

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Chinese companies are struggling to translate their economic might into a worldwide reputation, according to a study released by Fortune magazine.

Not a single Chinese company was ranked in the top 50 in its annual "World's Most Admired Companies List" for 2013, widely considered among the most definitive report cards on global corporate reputation.

Only nine Chinese firms appeared in the top 10 firms named across some 57 different industry groupings, of which 26 covered globally competitive industries and 31 were US-oriented industries.

Fortune determined the candidates by using the Fortune 1,000 listing and the Fortune Global 500 listing.

International companies must have $10 billion in revenue and rank among the 15 largest by revenue within their own industry, according to Hay Group, which facilitated the research.

The top 13 companies in the survey were from the US, with the list topped by Apple Inc, for the sixth consecutive year, followed by search engine Google Inc and e-commerce giant Inc.

The first non-American company to appear on the list was German car giant BMW at 14, with the second and third non-US companies both Asian, Toyota Motor Corp at 29, and Singapore Airlines Ltd at 31 on the list.

The only other Asian company in the top 50 was South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co at 35.

Three Chinese newcomers were listed highly in their own industry-specific rankings.

Lenovo Group Ltd grabbed seventh spot in the PC sector. China Minmetals Corp claimed fifth place among metal producers. And COFCO, China's largest food vendor, was identified as the second most-admired trading company.

Other Chinese firms listed as having an industry-wide reputation included Baosteel Group Corp, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd.

This year's survey was in sharp contrast to last year's Fortune Global 500 List, which highlighted 79 Chinese firms as among the world's top revenue earners.

The Most Admired list gauges reputation rather than earnings, and surveys top executives and directors from eligible companies along with financial analysts, said Zhou Zhanhong, acting executive editor-in-chief of the Chinese edition of the magazine.

"Lenovo's success indicated that its transparent operation and acquisition of IBM's PC business unit have gained traction among global investors," Zhou said.

In comparison, the more discreet business strategies of China's Huawei Technologies Co, while also a heavyweight player in the telecom segment, fueled suspicion among the international business community, Zhou noted.

Tom Doctoroff, the Shanghai-based North China head at advertising firm JWT, said that despite an increasing overseas presence, Chinese enterprises still have a lot of work to do on their global branding and image.

"The key question is this: When will Chinese brands move from just being recognized for their scale and stature, to those admired for their innovation and reputation, enjoying a loyal, long-term customer base?"

He said that Chinese brands currently thrive on price and value and not for being "perceived as offering superiority, or for a specific attribute or benefit".

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