Cargill Tops Forbes List of Private Firms

From Reuters

For the second consecutive year, Cargill Inc., a Minneapolis-based grain trading company with $32 billion in annual revenue, is the largest private American company, according to a survey by Forbes magazine.

Distributors, accountants, engineers, brokers, ad agencies and publishers predominate, Forbes says in its Nov. 17 issue. Manufacturers are scarce. There is no private airline of any size, no utility, few banks and insurers and one railroad. Fifty of the Forbes 400 private companies are wholesale or retail food firms, the largest category on the list.

In its second annual ranking, Forbes listed the 400 largest private firms in the United States according to estimates of their sales during the most recent fiscal year.

Forbes says Cargill's revenue was twice that of the second-ranked company, Kansas-based Koch Industries Inc., a petroleum and natural gas concern with $16 billion in revenue. Third-ranked Continental Grain Co., a New York-based commodity trading firm, had total sales of $14 billion last year.

Forbes says private business is strong in the service sector, the fastest growing part of the economy. It is not as well represented in the goods-producing sector, the one most exposed to competition from abroad.

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