List of the 10 largest companies in Switzerland
Although Switzerland is one of the smaller European countries, it is home to numerous companies that are also internationally renowned – many of them from the financial or chemical industries. This ranking leaves out trading companies – such as Glencore. Some are true global players. Here we present 10 top companies from Switzerland.
1. Nestlé S.A., Vevey
Nestlé is considered the largest food company in the world. The company’s history began with a condensed milk factory in Cham and the invention of a soluble milk powder for babies by Heinrich Nestlé, a native of Frankfurt. Today, Nestlé is active in many food sectors. The product portfolio includes baby food, beverages, ice cream, chocolate, biscuits, frozen food, refrigerator products and sauces. Well-known Nestlé brands include Nesquik, Nescafé, Vittel, Mövenpick, Schöller, Alete, Maggi and Thomy. In total, there are around 2,000 Nestlé brands worldwide. The Group employs around 273,000 people. Nestlé is one of the world’s top 100 companies in terms of sales and one of the 50 corporations with the largest market capitalisation. In summary, Nestlé is one of the most important companies in Switzerland.
Update 2023: The Group posted record sales of 23.5 billion Swiss francs in Q1/2023. This was primarily due to whopping price increases by the food giant of almost 10% percent.
2. Zurich Insurance Group Ltd, Zurich
Zurich Insurance is the largest Swiss insurance group. Founded in 1872 as a reinsurance company, it is now an internationally active universal insurer. The Group’s business includes all standard insurance products for private customers, the self-employed and companies, life insurance and investments. Zurich Insurance markets its products in around 170 countries around the globe and employs approximately 55,000 people. In Europe, Switzerland, Germany and the United Kingdom are the most important markets. Zurich is the largest Swiss private insurer, and Zurich Group Germany is one of the 10 largest German insurers. Another important market is North America. In 1998, the US insurance group Farmers was acquired. Farmers is the third-largest insurer in the USA with a focus on personal and liability insurance.
Update 2024: The Zurich-based group expands its portfolio, acquires the insurance company Kotak Mahindra General Insurance for just under USD 500 million and thus enters the Indian market. The seller is Kotak Mahindra Bank.
3. F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, Basel
The Roche Group in Basel is considered the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. The company was founded in 1896 by Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche. The first product was a thyroid preparation. Today, the Roche Group produces a wide range of medicines. The second pillar of the business is diagnostics – instruments and tests for disease diagnosis and therapy monitoring. Roche has a strong position in cancer medicines, multiple sclerosis medicines and medicines for viral and metabolic diseases. For a long time, benzodiazepines also played an important role in Roche’s product range. The Roche tranquilliser Valium was one of the best-selling medicines in the world for many years and still has strong sales. The Roche Group employs over 100,000 people worldwide. Its largest shareholders are the founding families Hoffmann and Oeri.
4. Novartis AG, Basel
The Swiss biotech and pharmaceutical group Novartis was created in 1996 from the merger of the two traditional Basel companies Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz. Alongside the Roche Group, the company is the second Swiss heavyweight in the pharmaceutical sector. At the time, the merger was the largest corporate merger in the world. Novartis produces and sells a wide range of prescription and over-the-counter medicines, as well as animal health products. Novartis has a strong position in generics (copycat medicines). In 2000, Novartis acquired BASF’s generics division, and in 2005 it bought Hexal, the leading German generics manufacturer. The generics division of Novartis is combined in the Sandoz subgroup. The traditional name was revived specifically for this purpose. Novartis has over 100,000 employees.
5. Swiss Re AG, Zurich
Swiss Re is the world’s second largest reinsurer after Germany’s Munich Re. The company was founded in 1863 by Basler Handelsbank, Helvetia Versicherungen and Schweizerische Kreditanstalt. Today, Swiss Re shares are predominantly in free float. The reinsurance business continues to be a mainstay at Swiss Re. 80 percent of gross premiums are generated in this area. The Group acts here as an insurer for insurers. The reinsurance business comprises the two segments Property & Casualty and Life & Health. In addition, Swiss Re offers insurance solutions for companies in the Corporate Solutions segment. Another business segment is Life Capital. Here Swiss Re acts as an outsourcing partner for life and health insurers.
6. UBS Group AG, Zurich
UBS is a major Swiss bank and one of the largest asset managers. It is one of the 50 largest banking groups around the globe. The company’s history began in 1862 with the founding of the ‘Bank in Winterthur’. Through numerous acquisitions and takeovers, the present-day group developed over time. An important milestone was the merger of UBS (formerly Union Bank of Switzerland) and Swiss Bank Corporation in 1998. The business comprises the Global Wealth Management, Personal & Corporate Banking, Asset Management and Investment Bank divisions. The UBS Group employs over 70,000 people. UBS’s market share in Swiss banking is one quarter to one third. UBS Asset Management is the largest Swiss asset manager and also plays in the premier league globally.
7. Chubb Limited, Zurich
Chubb Limited was founded in 1985 as ACE Limited on the Cayman Islands by a consortium of companies with significant US participation. In 2008, the registered office was relocated to Switzerland. ACE, which originally focused on liability insurance, acquired its US competitor Chubb Corporation in 2008 for a purchase price of 28 billion dollars. The new company has since traded as Chubb Limited. The group employs around 31,000 people worldwide and has offices in 54 countries. The insurance programme of Chubb Limited includes industrial insurance (cyber protection, pecuniary loss liability protection, other liability insurance, property insurance), personal insurance (foreign insurance, business travel insurance, group accident insurance), credit insurance and multinational insurance programmes. Chubb Limited is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and its shares are predominantly free float.
8. Coop Cooperative, Basel
Coop Genossenschaft is one of the largest Swiss retail and wholesale organisations. It has its origins in consumer associations that were founded in Switzerland in the 19th century. These were associations on a cooperative basis. In 1890, the Federation of Swiss Consumer Associations (VSK) was founded in Olten as an umbrella organisation. In 1969, the VSK changed its name to Coop as part of an entrepreneurial reorientation. The Coop cooperative has around 2.5 million members and operates supermarkets, department stores, DIY and hobby markets, restaurants, petrol stations and other shops in Switzerland. The Coop group includes the consumer electronics chains ‘Interdiscount’ and ‘Dipl. Ing. Fust’ as well as the ‘Christ Uhren und Schmuck’ shops. Coop employs over 95,000 people.
9. Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund, Zurich
Migros is the second largest cooperative retail trade organisation in Switzerland with around 2.3 million members. It was founded in 1925 by the Swiss entrepreneur and politician Gottlieb Duttweiler. Today, Migros is a conglomerate of companies represented externally by the Federation of Migros Cooperatives. At its core, it consists of ten Migros regional cooperatives. In the country, Migros operates more than 600 supermarkets, around 50 specialist retail centres, more than 40 speciality shops and numerous food outlets. Financial services are also offered through Migros Bank and Migros Pensionskasse. Other business activities include travel (Hotelplan Group), leisure and sports, postal services and health services. Almost 100,000 employees work under the umbrella of the Federation of Migros Cooperatives.
10. ABB Asea Brown Boveri Ltd, Zurich
ABB is a Swiss-Swedish industrial group in the field of energy and automation technology. The group was formed in 1998 by the merger of the Swiss Brown, Boveri & Cie (BBC) and the Swedish Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget (ASEA). This created a new company with around 110,000 employees and business activities in around 100 countries. ABB’s core businesses are electrification, robotics, factory automation and industrial automation. A majority stake (80.1 per cent) in the power grid division (ABB Power Grids) was sold to Japanese conglomerate Hitachi in 2018. ABB Power Grids has since changed its name to Hitachi Energy. The ABB Group consists of more than 300 subsidiaries worldwide. ABB Switzerland AG in Baden (AG), the Swiss subsidiary, employs around 3,800 people.
Picture: Andreas M via Unsplash (25.04.2023)
Focus on the Swiss economy
The Swiss economy is one of the most important economies in the world. In addition to a high-tech manufacturing industry, the country also offers one of the most important financial centers in Europe. Numerous mechanical engineering companies and technology giants such as ABB are based in Switzerland. Globally operating banking houses such as UBS or Credit Suisse originate from Switzerland. The luxury watch industry also contributes to the fact that Switzerland ranks second in the world in terms of GDP per capita. Increasingly, international trading conglomerates are also based in Switzerland for legal reasons, such as the commodities trading group Glencore. The pharmaceutical industry also has a strong presence in Switzerland, with companies such as Roche and Novartis. Regional centers of the Swiss economy are Basel, Zurich, Geneva and Baar. For example, the mechanical engineering group ABB and the bank UBS are headquartered in Zurich. Basel is home to the pharmaceutical companies Roche and Novartis, as well as the chemical giant Syngenta. Geneva is home to many retailers, such as Cargil or Gunvor. With our list of the Swiss economy and the companies with the highest turnover, we offer a unique insight into one of the most productive economies in the world.
Picture: Ruth Georgiev via Unsplash (25.04.2023)
Map of the top companies
On the map, the geographical distribution of the top Swiss companies can be analyzed. It can be seen that a majority of the companies are located in the northern part of Switzerland. This is, of course, also due to the fact that the south of Switzerland is lined by mountain ranges. Particularly active economic centers are Zurich, Basel, Geneva, Lucerne, Lausanne and St. Gallen.
Included information in this list
- Company name & legal form
- Segmentation by sector & field of activity
- General contact data (address, e-mail address, telephone number, URL)
- Name of the management
- Serial letter suitable for addressing the management (e.g. “Dear Dr. Müller”)
- Sales figures for the years 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 (taken from the annual and consolidated financial statements or public directories)
- Employee figures for the years 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018 (taken from the annual and consolidated financial statements or public directories)
Note: If the sales and employee figures are not included in a company’s own financial statements but in the parent company’s consolidated financial statements, the data from the respective consolidated financial statements are provided.
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