Mega-Banks Move Up on Fortune Global 500
It’s a sad commentary that while 96 smaller banks have been allowed to fail through July 16 of this year, and 140 failed last year, the country’s four mega-banks moved closer to the top on the recently released Fortune Global 500 list.
This year’s list of the world’s 500 largest corporations appears in the July 26, 2010 issue of Fortune magazine. Scanning the list last evening, I was shocked to see just how far up the list the four mega-banks moved since last year.
Ranking 37 in 2008, Bank of American ranks 15 in 2009
Ranking 49 in 2008, JPMorgan Chase ranks 25 is 2009
Ranking 39 in 2008, Citigroup ranks 33 in 2009
Ranking 141 in 2008, Wells Fargo ranks 46 in 2009
BofA’s major move up is due largely to its rushed acquisitions of Countrywide Financial, America’s largest mortgage lender, and Merrill Lynch. Chase got its boast by acquiring Washington Mutual, the country’s largest savings bank, at a bargain basement price. And Wells Fargo’s giant leap forward is the result of its acquisition of Wachovia which had acquired the 285-branch World Savings in May, 2006.
Wachovia was originally headed to Citibank and only a last-minute higher bid from Wells Fargo prevented Citibank from capturing its prey. Had Citibank prevailed, its move up the Fortune Global 500 list would have been even greater.
Unlike the other three mega-banks, Wells Fargo does not have a large securities trading operation. In fact, despite its number four position among the four mega-banks, Wells is the country’s largest consumer bank.
It wasn’t until I was near the bottom of the list that I came across two other domestic banks.
Ranking 483 in 2008, U.S. Bancorp ranks 443 in 2009
Not on the list in 2008, PNC Financial ranks 451 in 2009
What we have in America is a banking oligopoly at the top with a few smaller regional banks in the middle and a mass of small community banks and credit unions at the bottom. And this mass continues shrinking as a result of aggressive FDIC closures.
Fortunately for our community banks and credit unions, these mega-banks don’t spend the multiple billions of dollars on consumer advertising as does their retail brethren on the Fortune Global 500 list.
As you might expect, #1 on the list this year is Walmart followed by three oil companies and Toyota.