Cargill is back at # 1

Cargill is back on top of Forbes’ annual ranking of the largest private American companies. The food company fell to No.2 last year, only the third time Cargill has missed out on first place since Forbes began following private businesses nationwide in 1985. The Minnesota-based firm’s revenue grew 17% in the year through May 2021 to reach $ 134.4 billion, the company reported, stimulated by rising prices of agricultural products. Koch Industries ranks second this year with estimated revenue of $ 115 billion for the year through December 2020. The family business has a variety of businesses including chemicals, refining, paper and biofuels. It has been led by billionaire CEO Charles Koch since 1967.

Other household names topping the list include candy maker Mars at No.4, Boston-based investment giant Fidelity at No.10, and media company Cox Communications at No.14.

Registration on the list is based on income for the most recent fiscal year. For 80% of companies, this means revenue for the 2020 calendar. Others have fiscal years that ended as recently as October 2021.

Click here for a full list of America’s largest private companies.

Medical supplies company Medline caused a stir earlier this year when it announced it was selling a controlling stake to a group of private equity firms in one of the largest debt buyouts ever. The deal, valued at $ 34 billion, was reached in October. Medline remains privately held and is ranked No. 16 with revenues of $ 17.5 billion.

Grocery retailers have fared well with 16 of the list’s 19 supermarkets showing revenue gains since last year’s list, largely due to increased consumer demand amid the pandemic. Revenue growth put two supermarket chains back on the list: Texas-based Brookshire Brothers at No. 162 and Bashas, ​​Ariz. At No. 208. Revenues for Florida’s Publix supermarkets (# 3) grew 18% in 2020, aided by the company’s growing footprint. The supermarket giant opened 39 new stores last year. In September, Publix announced it would expand to Kentucky by the end of 2023.

Southeastern Grocers, No.38, has flirted with a public offering for years, but called off its proposed IPO earlier this month. Plans to go public in 2014 were also canceled. Southeastern owns the Winn-Dixie, Harveys Supermarkets and Fresco Y Más banners and has estimated sales of $ 9.6 billion.

There is always movement both on and off the list. This year, 19 companies could not be included due to lower revenues, an acquisition or a public offering. Ten companies fell because declining revenues put them below the less than $ 2 billion list threshold. Furniture maker Haworth was affected by the downturn in the office furniture market, and its revenue fell 19% to $ 1.8 billion in 2020. Delaware North hotel company revenue fell 61% to 1 , $ 45 billion due to cancellations of sporting events and a slowdown in activities at airports, two areas where it operates.

The most publicized release was Airbnb. The house rental company went public via a $ 47 billion IPO in December 2020 after spending just two years on the list. Petco Animal Supplies, Vizio and Jo-Ann Stores have joined Airbnb as public companies. Vizio filed for an IPO in 2015, but withdrew the following year when he agreed to be sold to a Chinese company. This deal ultimately fell through and Vizio remained private until March of this year. Founder William Wang remains CEO.

Two companies no longer appear due to acquisitions. The Smart & Final grocery store chain was acquired in May 2021 by Bodega Latina, a subsidiary of the Mexican group Grupo Comercial Chedraui. The Nature’s Bounty, a New York-based vitamin maker, was sold to Nestlé in August 2021 for $ 5.75 billion.

The accounting firms Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young were removed from the list because all three are headquartered abroad.

In total, twenty-five companies entered the ranks this year as newcomers or returnees (defined as a company that has appeared before, has fallen, and is now back on the list). The top-ranked newcomer is Uline at No. 73. The Wisconsin-based company sells shipping and other business supplies and has estimated revenues of $ 5.8 billion.

The newly formed Ultimate Kronos group joins the list at No. 138 with revenue of $ 3.3 billion. The cloud computing company specializes in workforce and human resources management. It was formed in April 2020 by the merger of Ultimate Software and Kronos Inc.

Michaels Companies, the arts, crafts and framing retailer, is back on our list, its third round as a private company. Michaels debuted in 1973 and was listed on the Nasdaq in 1984. Blackstone and Bain Capital acquired Michaels in late 2006; it went public again in 2014. Apollo Global Management again private Michaels in April this year in a $ 3.3 billion deal. Interestingly, Michaels debuted at No.81 in 2007, the same ranking as this year.

The 162nd-ranked Brookshire Brothers grocery chain returns to the list after 12 years. It fell from the rankings when the list minimum was raised to $ 2 billion in revenue in 2009. Brookshire Brothers is linked to another company on the list, Brookshire Grocery, No 168. A split between the founding brothers in 1938 gave rise to two separate companies..


The Forbes list of America’s Largest Private Companies includes companies based in the United States with over $ 2 billion in revenue in the most recent fiscal year. Most companies do not plan to change their private status. Many companies appreciate the lack of quarterly earnings forecasts and the reduced liability to Sarbanes-Oxley reporting requirements. (Private companies with publicly traded debt must file financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission.) We exclude companies based outside the United States, companies that don’t pay income tax ( like the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority), jointly owned companies (like State Farm Insurance), co-ops (like Land O’Lakes), businesses with less than 100 employees, and businesses more than 50% owned by other audiences , private or non-American company. We also leave aside companies whose main activity is car dealerships or investment and / or property management. We include companies majority owned by private companies, such as Medline Industries. Where possible, our revenue figures for each company exclude sales from publicly traded subsidiaries. Our data sources include voluntary corporate disclosures, Securities and Exchange Commission filings, and estimates of Forbes researchers and external sources.

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