World’s 5 Largest Privately Held Companies by Revenue

| Updated
by Benjamin Godfrey · 4 min read
World’s 5 Largest Privately Held Companies by Revenue
Photo: Depositphotos

Vitol, Trafigura, Huawei, Koch Industries, Cargill are among the most valuable privately-held companies.

The world is a global village that is serviced by businesses and corporations, which ensures the populace in every geographical location has access to the basic items required for survival. The specific business models of every business may differ, but one thing defines most of them irrespective of the country of domiciliation and that is revenue generation. On this basis, the largest of the companies have been ranked based on their revenue generated in the past fiscal year and this article gives a summarized highlight of the profiled business.

The ranking is global and does not include state-owned enterprises like China Petroleum & Chemical Ord Shs A (SHA: 600028), Saudi Arabian Oil Co (TADAWUL: 2222), and Kuwait Petroleum Corporation amongst others.

The threshold earnings for the firms listed below are $18 billion per annum.

Top 5 Largest Companies on the List


Featuring at the very top of the most valuable privately-held companies is Vitol, a Dutch energy and commodity trading company that was founded in Rotterdam in 1966 by Henk Viëtor and Jacques Detiger.

Through the company’s logistical expertise and infrastructural network, it is able to trade and distribute energy safely and responsibly around the world. The company distributes as much as 387 million tonnes of crude oil and products annually complemented by 8 million barrels of oil traded daily. The company’s strides saw it clinch the top spot with $225 billion in revenue in 2019.

Trafigura Group

While Netherlands-based Vitol ranks top, Singapore-based Trafigura Group also maintains a top spot with annual revenue of $147 billion. The Trafigura Group is a relatively younger firm founded in 1993 and operates as a multinational commodity trading company that is highly vested in base metals and energy.

Despite the economically menacing year that 2020 turned out to be due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trafigura Group turned out productive with a $6.8 billion profit. The company currently has an asset base of over $57 billion.

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd

Huawei Technologies comes as the third-ranked privately operated company to be profiled. The company is one of China’s foremost developers of disruptive 5G technology. Huawei designs, develop, and sells telecommunication equipment, and consumer electronics.

Huawei boasts of revenue of $124.3 billion, a feat it was able to pull off despite the company’s strained operations during Donald Trump’s administration owing to sanctions which limited the firm’s American based partners to supply it with the chips it needed for its mobile phone production.

Koch Industries

American based Koch Industries comes fourth. Founded in 1940, Koch Industries has become a juggernaut in petrochemical trading, heavy chemical manufacture, and paper to mention but a few. While the company is fourth in the global ranking, it is the most valuable United States privately held company according to a Forbes ranking.

The company has a revenue of $115 billion in 2019, the most recent financial filing used in the current ranking. Koch Industries has maintained its fervor as a success story despite the global economic meltdown stirred by the coronavirus.


Cargill is a Minnesota based Food, Drinks, and Tobacco trading company that was established in 1865. The company has weathered a lot of global economic turmoils and is not surprising it ranks amongst the most elite of private companies around today.

Cargill earned its position with annual revenue of $114.6 billion and it maintained a top spot in the US for about 12 years after being recently dethroned by Koch Industries. The company’s ambition to help nourish the world inspires its penetration of new markets, and ultimately growth opportunities.

Plans to Remain Private Forever?

The listed companies as well as many other profitable privately held companies are always facing the prompting to go public. It should be noted that some previously profitable private firms like Airbnb Inc (NASDAQ: ABNB) had gone public and many more aiming to do so. But as the essence of a public listing is to shore up the firm’s liquidity to push for more expansion, these companies that are featured above are already awash with enough funds that the essence of a public debut is not looking economically strategic.

Business News, Editor's Choice, Market News, News, Stocks
Related Articles