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The United Nations Conference on Trade And Development [UNCTAD] publishes the World Investment Report each year. This year’s report contains the top 50 multi-national financial companies based on the Geographical Spread Index (GSI). The GSI is “calculated as the square root of the Internationalization Index multiplied by the number of host countries. The ”Internationalization Index”, is calculated as the number of foreign affiliates divided by the number of all affiliates.”

The Top 50 Financial Multi-National Companies Ranked by Geographical Spread Index:

click to enlarge

Note: Assets are in US $ millions
Source: World Investment Report, 2009

The ranking is based on 2008 data. So in the recent months some of these companies have disappeared due to mergers or acquisitions. ABN Amro of The Netherlands was acquired by a consortium of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Fortis, and Banco Santander (STD) in 2007. It is not clear why ABN Amro is still in the above list. It could be that when this ranking was done ABN Amro still operated as a separate entity in many countries. Last year BNP Paribas of France acquired a majority stake in Fortis of Belgium making the Belgium and Luxembourg governments minority shareholders. During the credit crisis, Merrill Lynch of USA was taken over by Bank of America (BAC), which itself was bailed out by the U.S. The German lender Hypo Real Estate Holding AG was nationalized by Germany this year.

The global financial landscape has changed dramatically after the crisis last year with many banks writing down billions of dollars of bad assets while others simply do not exist anymore. 2010 may also prove to be another interesting year for the financial sector as many still struggle with further deterioration in the quality of their assets. So it is hoped that investors can use the above list to identify financial companies with global reach.

Source: UNCTAD's Top 50 Financial Multi-Nationals by Geographical Spread Index