Top 10 best-performing Australian companies: mines to banks

Atlassian, Australia's top tech company and 10th largest firm by market cap
Among Australia’s largest companies by market cap are the country’s Big Four banks, a tech startup that successfully scaled, and two firms with female CEOs


BHP Group

AU$312.252 billion

Industry: Mining

Founded: 1885

CEO: Mike Henry

BHP Group is Australia's biggest company and the world's largest-listed miner

Headquartered in Melbourne, BHP Group is the world’s largest-listed miner, with 38,000 employees and US$210.122 billion in market value.

Focused on the resources that the world needs to grow and decarbonise, BHP engages in the exploration, development, production and processing of iron ore, copper, and coal, with the iron ore segment responsible for half of revenues, and the copper segment growing amid the current copper boom.

The Group said recently it remains committed to growing its portfolio of copper and nickel projects, but is not interested in the lithium market, which it believes is well supplied.

While BHP’s profits in the six months ending 31 December 2022 came in 32% lower than the US$9.44bn in the same period last year, due to slowing growth in the US and Europe, the Group is optimistic that growth in China and India will boost commodity demand over the next six to 12 months, CEO Mike Henry told CNBC.

The company’s projects include iron ore mines in Brazil and Australia, and copper mines in Peru, Australia and Chile. It also has a potash development project in Canada, and coal mines in Australia, the US and Colombia.


Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) Group

AU$162.828 billion

Industry: Banking

Founded: 1911

CEO: Matt Comyn

Australia’s largest bank CommBank is aiming to become the global-leading AI bank

Australia’s largest bank and best-known financial services brand in Australia, The Bank Commonwealth of Australia (CBA) Group, also known as CommBank, operates predominantly in Australia and New Zealand with a small presence in Europe, North America, and Asia.

The Group, which has the largest retail customer base in Australia, and operates the largest financial services distribution network in the country, is a leading provider of financial services including retail, premium, business, and institutional banking, funds management, superannuation, insurance, investment and shareholding products and services.

Among the bank’s subsidiaries is Indonesia-based PT Bank Commonwealth, though the Group is looking to offload the subsidiary as part of its strategy to focus on core operations in Australia and New Zealand.

The Group, which has more than 52,000 employees and secured cash net profit after tax of US$5.15bn in the six months ending 31 December 2022, is focused on investing in technology and its core businesses to “improve customers’ lived experience and to solve their unmet needs”, CBA’s CEO Matt Comyn said in the latest earnings brief.

“CommBank aims to become the global-leading AI bank,” a CBA spokesperson recently told iTnews.


CSL Limited

AU$143.28 billion

Industry: Biopharma

Founded: 1916

CEO: Dr Paul MacKenzie

CSL Limited is the world’s largest and fastest-growing protein-based biotech company

The world’s largest and fastest-growing protein-based biotech company, multinational CSL Limited is focused on researching, developing, manufacturing, and marketing vaccines and other products to treat and prevent serious human medical conditions.

The company, which was formed by the Federal Government of Australia in 1916, and privatised in 1994, has more than 30,000 employees worldwide, operates in more than 40 countries, and boasts annual revenues of US$10.6bn.

Among its businesses is CSL Behring, a global biotherapeutics leader which operates one of the world’s largest plasma collection networks (CSL Plasma), and CSL Sequirus, the world’s number two influenza vaccine provider and a major contributor to the prevention of influenza globally.

The company's most recent acquisition of Swiss-based global pharma company Vifor Pharma (CSL Vifor) is set to help accelerate opportunities to bring new and innovative products to those suffering with kidney disease and iron deficiencies.

CSL is committed to R&D with 2,000 employees and US$4.6bn in R&D investments in the last five years, as it looks to advance its product pipeline.

Last year, CSL delivered record net profit of US$2.236bn with revenue up 3%; and recently long-time CEO Paul Perreault stepped down to become a strategic advisor to the Group, with pharma and biotech veteran Dr Paul MacKenzie taking the helm. 


National Australia Bank Limited (NAB)

AU$87.925 bn

Industry: Banking

Founded: 1858

Group CEO: Ross McEwan

One of Australia's Big Four banks, NAB is headquartered in Sydney

One of Australia’s big four banks by assets, National Australia Bank Limited (NAB) serves more than eight and a half million individuals, MSMEs, and large corporates, providing a comprehensive and integrated range of banking and financial products and services.

Headquartered in Melbourne, the bank became NAB when the National Bank of Australasia (est. 1858) merged with the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney (est. 1834) in 1981 and today, NAB has 32,000 employees and a presence in Australia, New Zealand, the US, UK, and across Asia, including Singapore, Japan, China and India.

The NAB Group includes corporate and retail banking businesses NAB, UBank and Bank of New Zealand; and offers wealth management through NAB Private Wealth in collaboration with JBWere and nabtrade. The Group also encompasses healthcare banking and finance businesses HICAPS and Medfin.

Most significantly, last year, the bank acquired Citigroup’s consumer business in Australia in a deal worth AU$1.2bn.

The bank is investing in developing Australia’s safest, simplest and most secure digital asset ecosystem and recently completed an intra-bank cross-border transaction using NAB-issued stablecoin, representing a world first by a major financial institution on a layer-one public blockchain.

NAB’s Australian stablecoin, AUDN, is the cornerstone for NAB’s ambitions in digital assets.

The banking group recently reported a jump in profits, with recorded cash earnings for the December 2022 quarter of AU$2.15bn, up by 18% compared with the average of the two previous quarters.


Australia and New Zealand Group Holdings (ANZ)

AUD$68.327 billion

Industry: Banking

Founded: 1835

CEO: Shayne Elliott

ANZ is Australia's largest institutional bank

Another one of the country’s big four banking groups, and the largest institutional bank in the country, Australia, and New Zealand Group Holdings (ANZ) provides banking and financial products and services to 8.5 million retail and business customers and operates across 32 markets.

While ANZ is the largest institutional bank in Australia, it has fallen behind the other three big banks in other ways over the past decade as they surged ahead with capitalising on Australia’s housing boom. However, last year, the lender agreed to a AU$4.9bn deal to acquire insurer Suncorp’s banking arm in a bid to boost the size of its mortgage book – this marked the largest deal in Australia’s banking sector since 2008.

The banking group, which recently established an NOHC as the new listed parent company of the ANZ group and separate its operations into banking and non-banking segments, saw its full-year 2022 revenues rise 9.3% from 2021 to AU$19.7 billion with revenue forecast to grow 4.0% pa on average during the next three years.

The Group is focused on investment in technology, recently plunging US$50m into property media and tech company View Media Group, which offers AI property technology solutions; and last year creating a stablecoin (A$DC), a tokenised version of Australian dollars that is built to interact with digital assets like NFTs and that can interact on a range of blockchains.


Westpac Banking Corporation

AUD 74.886 billion

Industry: Banking

Founded: 1817

CEO: Peter King

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Australia’s first bank and oldest company, founded in 1817, Westpac Banking Corporation (Westpac) is the country’s number three lender offering a broad range of banking and financial services across six major divisions, including Consumer, Business, Westpac Institutional Bank, Westpac New Zealand, Group Businesses and Specialist Businesses.

Serving 13.9 million customers worldwide, and with 40,000 employees, the banking group boasts a unique portfolio of brands including Westpac, St.George, Bank of Melbourne, BankSA, BT and RAMS.

The Sydney-headquartered group secured a net income profit in 2022 of AU$5.69 billion, up 4.3% from 2021, though its revenues were down 12% as the group was hit by a charge on the sale of its life insurance unit.

This comes as the ANZ continues to sharpen its focus on core banking, reduced costs, and improved service to customers”, CEO Peter King said in a statement.

The company is currently scaling up its use of cloud services, as it looks to “deliver new and enhanced digital-first experiences for our customers and employees, particularly through advanced technologies like Conversational AI, Banking-as-a-Service”, according to Westpac Group CTO David Walker.

Following a deal with Microsoft Azure last year, Westpac recently signed a five-year agreement with AWS, with plans to use machine learning, computer, and data analytics to help improve the bank’s efficiency.

This comes as the group announces closure of 20 branches across Australia this year, as it witnesses a significant change to the way people are choosing to bank with 96% of banking transactions at Westpac done digitally.


Macquairie Group Limited

AU$67.004 billion

Industry: Banking

Founded: 1969

CEO: Shemara Wikramanayake

Macquairie Group has a 53-year record of unbroken profitability

The owner of Macquairie Bank Limited, Macquairie Group is a global provider of banking, financial, advisory, investment and funds management services, with specialist expertise in areas such as resources, agriculture and commodities, energy and infrastructure.

The Group, which has nearly 15,000 employees and operates in more than 34 markets worldwide, including Asia, South Africa, and the Middle East, has particular expertise of the APAC region, along with a significant and expanding presence in the Americas with more than 3,000 professionals in offices in 32 locations there.

Among its businesses are Macquarie Capital, the Group’s corporate advisory, capital markets and principal investment arm comprising six industry groups; and Macquarie Capital Advisers Real Estate, which provides expertise and execution of real estate transactions to clients worldwide. The Group also operates Presidio Partners, a San Francisco-based real estate private capital raising and advisory business.

Among recent acquisitions are Waddell & Reed Financial, Inc (2021) and AMP Capital’s Global Equities and Fixed Income business (2022), which saw the transfer of AU$47bn of AUM from AMP to Macquarie Asset Management.

The diversity of its operations, combined with a strong capital position and robust risk management framework, has contributed to its 53-year record of unbroken profitability.


Wesfarmers Limited

AU$55.534 billion

Industry: Diversified

Founded: 1914

CEO: Rob Scott

Wesfarmers has become one of Australia's most diverse companies and largest retailers

Starting out as a farmers’ cooperation in Western Australia nearly a century ago, Wesfarmers Limited has grown to become one of the country’s most diverse companies as well as one of its largest retailers, following its acquisition of food and liquor retailer Coles Group in 2007 and continued acquisition of iconic retail brands including Kmart, Target and Officeworks.

The £49-billion conglomerate, which is Australia’s largest private employer with 110,000 workers and operations country-wide, has interests in far-ranging businesses, including supermarkets and department stores (Kmart and Target), home improvement and office supplies (Bunnings, Officeworks), as well as in mining, energy, chemicals and fertiliser, chemical and fertiliser production, and digital.

2022 proved a successful year for Wesfarmers, despite its retail operations being impacted by lockdowns and supply chain bottlenecks. Not only did the Group deliver positive profits, with a 2.9% increase in net profit after tax, to AU$2.35bn, and an 8.5% revenue increase to $36.8bn, but also positive sustainability results with a 7.4% reduction in market-based Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.

The Perth-headquartered behemoth increased its focus on circular economy, Scope 3 emissions, and increased its employment of indigenous workers, up 3.3% on 2021.

Last year, Wesfarmers purchased ASX-listed business API, kicking off its first foray into the healthcare sector, an area of focus for the company, and over the last couple of years Wesfarmers has been investing in the digital space, to develop a market-leading ‘data and digital ecosystem’.


Fortescue Metals Group Limited

AU$44.038 billion

Industry: Mining

Founded: 2003

CEO: Fiona Hick

Fortescue is one of the world's lowest cost iron ore producers

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Fortescue Metals Group Limited is one of the world’s lowest cost iron ore producers, now shipping at an annual rate of more than 180 million tonnes.

The company, which has three mining hubs in the Pilbara, Western Australia, is a supplier of seaborne iron ore to China, and has extended into other markets including Japan and South Korea.

Through its green energy and tech subsidiary FFI (Fortescue Future Industries), Fortescue is rapidly diversifying its business to become an integrated, global green energy and resources company, and for its size, is the leading mining company globally in reducing emissions, as it looks to become carbon neutrality for Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030 and Scope 3 by 2040.

FFI is currently pushing ahead with five clean energy projects, including a green hydrogen production facility in Geelong, Victoria, and has joined forces with the Government of Kenya to develop a 300 megawatts green ammonia and fertiliser facility in Kenya, designed to boost the African nation’s growing clean energy production.

Last year, the firm also revealed ambitions to build Australia’s first green steel pilot plant.

The Group’s underlying net profit after tax took a tumble in the six months ending 31 December 2022 (H1 FY23) to AU$2.37bn versus AU$2.78bn the previous year. The company recently announced the slashing of a “few hundred jobs” as part of its efforts to maintain cost position, according to Reuters.


Atlassian Corporation

AUD 37.944 billion

Industry: Technology

Founded: 2002

CEOs: Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar

Australia’s top tech company, Atlassian, is a leading provider of team collaboration and productivity software

Australia’s top tech company, Atlassian, is a leading provider of team collaboration and productivity software with headquarters in both Sydney and San Francisco and more than 7,000 employees across 13 countries including in Europe, India, and the Middle East.

The US$45bn Nasdaq-listed company and one of Australia’s most successful startups found a niche 20 years ago developing software that allows teams to coordinate resources on complex projects. They make team collaboration software products such as Trello, Jira, Bitbucket and Confluence that support more than 250,000 customers.

The company, which generated around US$873m in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2022, up about 27% YoY, though ended the period with a US$205m net loss, recently slashed 500 jobs (5% of its workforce), but said the cuts were not a reflection of its financial performance and that it plans to reinvest in high-priority areas, such as cloud migrations.

Co-founders and co-CEOs Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar said in a statement to the SEC that the company needed to “reduce our investment in specific areas, in order to reinvest in others”.

Last year, Atlassian announced plans to increase its headcount in India to 3,000 by March 2024 from 1,400, following its partnership with educational institutions in India, and recently announced plans to construct the world’s tallest hybrid timber tower, located next to Sydney’s Central Station.


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