China’s Next-Gen Multinationals

For the past five years, Boston Consulting Group, a management consulting firm, has published an annual list of 100 companies from emerging economies that it reckons have the potential to become multinationals. All of what it calls its global challengers are fast growing and expanding internationally through acquisition. Sixteen countries from Argentina to the UAE contribute to BCG’s 2011 list. A third of the companies on it are from China.

Nine of the 33 Chinese firms are new additions this year, accounting for 40% of all debutantes. The nine are:

The concentration in mining and minerals, steel, construction and fossil fuels, across the list and highlighted by the Chinese newcomers signal, BCG says, the rising importance of infrastructure and natural resources to the success of developing economies. Add in, in China’s case, emerging clean technologies. Note, too, the emergence of Chinese civil engineering firms among the world’s leading contractors, thanks to access to cheap labour and capital, vertically integrated suppliers and lots of experience with large-scale infrastructure projects at home.

Within the next five years, BCG forecasts, half of those on its list could qualify for inclusion among the world’s 500 largest companies. Several of those will inevitably be Chinese. They will have to battle with the challenge today’s multinationals face, of being global companies decreasingly rooted in their home countries, a challenge that culturally may prove more difficult for Chinese companies than U.S., European and Japanese ones. But note the names now.

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