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China moves up on top-500 list

A RECORD 43 Chinese companies, including four based in Shanghai, earned a spot on the latest Fortune 500 list, as the country moved up two places to rank behind only the United States and Japan as the homes of powerhouse firms.

Only 35 Chinese companies appeared on Fortune Magazine's previous annual ranking of the world's biggest companies by revenue. The sharp rise in the latest listing reflects the nation's rapid economic growth in the face of the global recession. It is also a result of a stronger yuan.

Beijing-based Sinopec, with 2008 revenue valued at US$207.8 billion, led the Chinese pack in ninth place overall, the first time a Chinese company entered the top 10, the magazine reported on Wednesday. The oil refiner and producer was No. 16 in the previous ranking.

Shanghai-headquartered Baosteel Group ranked 220th, up 39 spots, and Shanghai Automotive came in at No. 359. Baosteel said new projects, mergers and acquisitions helped it advance. Although the steel industry was hard hit by the global financial crisis starting in the second half of last year, China's mills have maintained output growth as a result of a massive government stimulus package.

There were nine new entries from China on the list, including two Shanghai-based companies - China United Telecommunications at No. 419 and the Bank of Communications at No. 494. That group also included two steel producers - Hebei Iron & Steel Group at No. 375 and private-sector Jiangsu Shagang Group at No. 444.

Personal-computer maker Lenovo Group, which was No. 499 in the previous ranking, fell off the list.

The 43 Chinese firms included three from Hong Kong and six based in Taiwan.

The number of US companies in the ranking fell from 153 to 140, the lowest since the magazine began the list in 1995.

Oil companies dominated, taking seven seats in the top 10 thanks to higher crude prices. Anglo-Dutch company Royal Dutch Shell topped the list with US$458.4 billion in revenue, followed by US giant Exxon Mobile in second place. Wal-Mart Stores was third, losing the No. 1 spot it held in the previous ranking.


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