The first such Top-500-Company rating of American corporations based on income figures was published by Fortune magazine, back in 1955. RBC published its first version of a Top-500 list for Russia's largest corporations sixty years later. The two ratings differ slightly in their methodology. The Fortune-500 lists American public corporations whose shares are publicly traded, as well as non-public corporations who are accountable to government bodies. This means that the listing omits a raft of major private corporations such as Cargill, Dell, and Mars. Meanwhile the RBK listings cover all major corporations in Russia — regardless of whether their shares are traded on the markets or not.


There are far more differences between the companies who come within these two ratings systems. The most glaring discrepancy is in the sizes of these corporations – although hardly surprising, when you compare the USA's GDP with Russia's. If we add the total income for the American Fortune-500 companies, it totals $12.5 trillion dollars – whereas the collective incomes of the RBC-500 don't even scrape the $1.5 trillion mark. 


The difference between their overall profits is even greater — $53 billion, versus $945 billion. Why is the level of difference for this factor so much greater? Firstly, the profits of Russian companies are often 'eaten' by exchange rates and debt re-evaluations – which are normally pegged in foreign currencies. Secondly and more prosaically, the RBC-500 list includes more loss-makers– 102 loss-making companies, compared to just 38 amid the Fortune-500. 

Although the totaled revenues in both rating schemes differ by a factor of more than eight times, the gap between their leaders is not so huge – Walmart's sales hit $486 billion, while Gazprom's net revenues were $143 billion.

Russian state-run natural giant Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller
© AP Photos, Alexander Zemlianichenko
Russian state-run natural giant Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller

In the category of  'least profitable corporation' Vneshekonombank trounced American company Energy Futures Holdings. VEB contrived to lose $6.5 billion, while Texas's largest energy company lost only $6.4 billion. Both are examples of weak management. Vneshekonombank had to create reserves from loans. Energy Futures Holdings has colossal debts, since the company was bought out by an investment consortium on cash borrowed under the LBO scheme. The investors were counting on a rise in gas prices – and as a result, improved competitiveness for the coal-fired and nuclear power plants which Energy Futures Holdings owns. However, gas prices instead dropped, and the company was forced to file for bankruptcy early in 2014. The differences are even less significant when we compare the two leaders with highest profits – Apple Corp ($40 billion) and Surgutneftegaz ($23 billion). But if the oil corporation's profits is down to the paper revaluation of its currency assets, Apple's profits are strictly from the cash value of the sales of its smartphones and tablets.


If we compare the stats for companies who led the way in falling revenues, then in the RBC-500 and the Fortune-500 they've dropped by 46%. The revenue loss at Stroygazconsulting involves a drop in Gazprom contracts, while at SuperValu the loss was caused by the company's inability to set up business services after absorbing 2000 stores in 2006, against the background of a fiercely competitive US market. Over six years the Super-Valu corporation went through four different CEOs, and in a business reconstruction program the corporation sold-off chunks of its business.

The ratings leaders in both systems for the category of income growth are both busily trading with the military. The Aviaremont corporation — whose income rocketed by 691% by consolidating factories — works on the repair and maintenance of aviation equipment, and on air defence systems. Aviaremont is part of the Garnizon Holding Co, whose owners are — in turn — the Russian Ministry of Defense. Meanwhile in the USA the revenues of SpartanNash – a massive food, drinks, and consumer-goods supplier to American military bases – perked up by 203%. This triple-sized increase in sales is the result of a merger of the two companies, Spartan Stores and Nash Finch, in 2013.


The second major difference between the RBC-500 and the Fortune-500 is connected with disproportions in the Russian listings. This can be particularly seen in its regional structure. Moscow accounts for 60% of the company ratings, and 80% of the overall income figures. The Fortune-500 has no such clear regional leader – Texas, California and New York vie for the lead. Yet even if we combine these three, the total share of all three states wouldn't reach 40% of the number of companies — not even by income.

The RBC-500 listings either entirely fail to list, or barely represent whole sectors of industry – such as technology (1.1% compared to 9.1% of the Fortune-500) health care (0.1%, compared to 8%), or hotels and restaurants (a complete 0%, versus 1.1%). 


Two sectors – energy and resources – monopolize 52% of the RBC overall revenues. To make this kind of 'industry majority' from the Fortune-500, at least five different kinds of industry would have to be lumped together. Moreover, they would be utterly unrelated areas of business either services or technologies – finance, retail, high-tech, healthcare, media, and telecommunications.