Top 10 largest companies in India (and how they got there)

Infosys was the first Indian company to be listed on the Nasdaq
From banks to IT majors, these Indian-born-and-bred companies are the country's largest by market value – so how did they get there?

1

Reliance Industries

Market value: US$191.49 billion

Chairman, MD: Mukesh Ambani

Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani has been awarded with the Asia Society Leadership Award in 2004 for his contribution to the development of a modern Indian economy

India’s most valuable private company with a market cap of US$191.49 billion, Reliance Industries (RIL) was formed 50 years ago by Dhirubhai Ambani – although his businesses began 15 years earlier. 

Early years were concentrated on the oil and gas sector, but diversification and growth have seen RIL become a market leader in retail and owner of India’s largest mobile network, Jio.

Chairman and MD Mukesh Ambani, 66, took the reins of RIL 20 years ago, following his father’s death, and has since been named the richest person in Asia, currently ranked 13th richest on the planet with a personal fortune of US$91.2 billion.

Growth in recent years has been nothing short of spectacular – with RIL doubling its value in the last five years. The Mumbai-based multinational today has diverse interests in textiles, telecoms, retail, natural resources and chemicals.

Like many companies, RIL is moving toward renewables with plans to build a 25GW solar plant by 2025 and 100GW plant by 2030. Committed to achieving net zero by 2035, the company is building the sprawling Dhirubhai Ambani Green Energy Giga Complex over 5,000 acres at Jamnagar.

The company says its Reliance New Energy Limited (RNEL) business will be a mix of hydrogen, wind, solar, fuel cells, and batteries as it aims to bridge what it calls the ‘green energy divide in India and the world’.

In Q2, the oil-to-telecom conglomerate reported a rise of 27% in consolidated net profit Q2, riven by higher EBITDA and a stronger retail business – with Reliance Retail’s net profit rising 21% in the September 2023 quarter.

2

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)

Market value: US$154.60 billion

CEO: K. Krithivaan

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India’s largest IT services company, and among the World’s Best Management Consulting Firms in 2023, according to Forbes, TCS has been partnering with many of the world’s largest businesses for the past 50 years – helping them to successfully navigate digital transformation and drive real growth.

Founded in 1968 by the Father of Indian IT, Fakir Chand Kohil, TCS first entered the US in 1981 and signed its first US$1 billion deal in 2007. Clocking US$25.7 billion in revenue in 2022, an all-time high, TCS has grown to 615,000 employees with operations in more than 150 locations across 46 countries.

Part of the Tata Group, TCS counts clients including nearly half the Fortune 500 companies, in industries ranging from banking and financial services to retail, life sciences and healthcare, with the company recently bagging a US$1.9 billion deal from UK-based Nest to digitally transform its scheme – the fourth largest deal that TCS finalised in the first half of the year.

In June too, new CEO K. Krithivaan took the helm of TCS following the abrupt departure of Rajesh Gopinathan, and the following month announced a revamp of the group’s organisational structure creating business groups based on industry sectors and geographies – banking, financial and insurance, healthcare, media, life sciences, travel, retail and energy etc.

North America brings in more than half (55%) of TCS business and is one of the largest recruiters in the US in the IT services industry, with 45,000 employees, hiring 21,000 in the last three years.

TCS is known for investing in its people and culture, recognised by Forbes among the World’s Most Admired Companies in 2023 and making its debut on Forbes’ annual list of America’s Best large Employers. More than 35% of the TCS workforce is made up of women with an 84% increase in female executive roles over five years. The company announced its net zero goal by 2030 in 2016.

TCS recently reported revenue from operations rose 7.9% to 596.92 billion rupees for the second quarter ended September 30, but fell short of the analysts' average estimate of 602.44 billion rupees, according to LSEG data.

3

HDFC Bank

Market value: US$150 billion

CEO: Sashidhar Jagdishan

HDFC Bank is India’s largest private sector lender

India’s largest private sector lender and the world’s fifth largest bank by market value, HDFC Bank offers wholesale banking, retail banking, treasury, credit cards, loans and digital products (Payzapp and SmartBUY) ­– and has a distribution network of 8,344 branches and nearly 20,000 ATMs across more than 3,800 cities.

As India’s sixteenth largest employer, HDFC Bank boasts a 173,000-strong workforce.

Incorporated in 1994 as a subsidiary of the Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC), the multi award-winning bank has grown via multiple mergers and acquisitions.

In 2000, HDFC Bank merged with Times Bank before acquiring Centurion Bank of Punjab in 2008, marking one of the largest mergers in the financial sector in India. Twelve years later, in 2021, the bank acquired a 9.99% stake in FERBINE to operate a pan-India umbrella entity for retail payment systems and later that year partnered with Paytm to launch a range of credit cards powered by Visa.

This year saw the bank merge with parent company HDFC to become the fifth-largest bank in the world. Following the U$40 billion merger, the bank reported higher second quarter standalone net profit, surging 50.6% for the quarter ended September 30, 2023, with net revenue growing by 33.1%.

Helmed by MD and CEO Sashidhar Jagdishan since 2020, the Reserve Bank of India recently approved the re-appointment of Jagdishan for a period of three more years, until October 2026. Prior to CEO, Jagdishan served as CFO and played a critical role in supporting the growth trajectory of the Bank.

4

ICICI Bank

Market value: US$78.61 billion

CEO: Sandeep Bakhshi

Sandeep Bakhshi is credited with turning around ICICI Bank

One of the largest players in the Indian financial services industry, ICICI Bank has not only achieved leadership status in the domestic market, but also established a presence in 17 countries, with subsidiaries in the UK and Canada, branches in Dubai, the US, Singapore, Bahrain, Hong Kong and China, and representative offices in seven countries, including the UAE, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the US.

Established in 1994 by ICICI, a government institution structured as a joint venture of the World Bank to provide project financing to Indian industry, the bank became the first financial institution from non-Japan Asia to be listed on the NYSE (1999) and following privatisation in 2001, acquired Bank of Madura. ICICI also has a 5% ownership interest in Yes Bank.

The Mumbai-headquartered ICICI offers a wide range of banking products and financial services to corporate and retail customers through a variety of delivery channels and through its specialised subsidiaries in the areas of investment banking, life and non-life insurance, VC and asset management.

In India, the bank has a network of 5,900 branches and more than 16,000 ATMs.

ICICI is led by Sandeep Bakhshi since 2018, with Bakhshi recently re-approved as MD and CEO for a further three-year term, until October 2026.

He is credited with restoring the credibility of the bank over the last five years, following allegations of money laundering under the previous CEO.

In October, the bank posted a record-high quarterly profit, rising 35.8% to US$1.23 billion, beating estimates.

5

Infosys

Market value: U$72.59 billion

CEO: Salil Parekh

Co-founded by seven engineers including former chairman, the legendary N.R. Narayana Murthy, in Pune in 1981 with just US$250 in capital, Infosys has grown over four decades to become a US$71.01 billion global leader in next-generation digital services and consulting with more than 328,000 employees.

Opening its first international office in Boston, US, Infosys is now represented across 274 locations in 56 countries – with the US responsible for the majority (60%) of its revenues.

The company has long been the gold standard in corporate governance in India pioneering the global delivery model and became the first Indian company to be listed on the Nasdaq, in 1999, and at the time was among the 20 biggest companies by market cap on the Nasdaq. Its employee stock options programme created some of India’s first salaried millionaires.

Infosys launched its consulting business in 2004, and by 2006 had reached revenues of US$2 billion – it took 23 years to reach the first billion, just 23 months to reach the next billion – crossing revenues of US$4 billion by 2008 and U$5 billion the following year.

By the time Infosys listed on the NYSE in 2012, it was ranked among the world’s most innovative companies by Forbes. In the decade since, the company has been recognised among the world’ best regarded companies, pipping Apple and Amazon to third place – and also recognised as one of the world’s most ethical companies, the fastest-growing IT services brand, and awarded global top employer certification in 22 countries.

It has also attained carbon neutrality 30 years ahead of the Paris accord.

The company posted a marginal rise in its Q2 net profit of 3.2% revising its FY24 revenue guidance.

N.R. Narayana Murthy, who continues to hold a minority stake in the Indian tech giant, stepped down as chairman in 2011 after 30 years with the company. Since 2018, Salil Parekh has helmed the IT giant.

Infosys has long been the gold standard in corporate governance in India

6

Hindustan Unilever (HUL)

Market cap: US$70.70 billion 

CEO and MD: Rohit Jawa

CEO of HUL and President, Unilever, South Asia, Rohit Jawa is a 35-year Unilever veteran

With 90 years of heritage in India, Unilever subsidiary Hindustan Unilever (HUL) is India’s largest FMCG company, with nine out of ten Indian households using its products on any given day.

Headquartered in Mumbai, and with 21,000 employees, HUL boasts a portfolio of 50 brands across 20 categories, from home and hygiene to skincare to health food drinks, with iconic brands including Dove, Lifebuyo, Surf excel, Vim, Brooke Bond Red Label and Horlicks, to name but a few.

HUL traces its roots back to Lever Brothers India Limited, a soapmaker that began trading in 1888 and was incorporated in 1933, with Unilever merging with Lever Brothers. In the 80s, HUL undertook massive market development initiatives to educate consumers, upgrading them to affordable shampoos and conditioners.

In 2018, HUL acquired GlaxoSmithKline India’s consumer business for US$3.8 billion in an all-equity merger deal.

For HUL, expanding businesses goes further than just profits – it’s about education, affordability, empowerment and access. Over the years, HUL has acquired brands that address Indian consumer needs with mergers aligned with the nation’s growth. In 1994, HUL acquired Tata Oil Mills, marking the largest corporate merger in history at the time,

Rohit Jawa became CEO of HUL and President, Unilever, South Asia in July 2023. A 35-year Unilever veteran, Jawa transformed the China business into the company’s third largest globally and as Chairman of Unilever Philippines, he led the business to become one of the top 10 markets for Unilever globally.

In its FY24 second-quarter results, HUL reported a 4% growth in its standalone net profit to while revenue climbed 3.53%.

HUL established its Foundation (HUF) in 2010, to support and amplify scalable solutions to address India’s water challenges for rural, agricultural communities with HUF’s programmes now reaching over 14,000 villages in partnership with NGOs and various co-founders.

In its journey to reduce environmental impact of its value chain, HUL eliminated coal from its operations and its factories, offices, R&D facilities, data centres, warehouses and distribution centres are now powered by renewable grid electricity.

7

ITC Limited

Market value: U$65.36 billion

Chairman, MD: Sanjiv Puri

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Widely known as Asia’s largest cigarette maker, ITC is one of India’s largest consumer companies with a diversified portfolio – including interests in hotels, IT, paper, agri-business and consumer goods, from food to personal care.

Founded in 1910 as a tobacco company, ICT began diversifying into new categories at the start of the millennium, into branded packaged foods, education and stationery products, and personal care products – becoming India’s most valued FMCG in 2018.

ITC has a number of subsidiaries, including ITC Infotech, a leading global tech services and solutions provider working with enterprises across industries including banking, healthcare, manufacturing, consumer goods, travel and hospitality.

Among milestones in the last few years, ICT opened a food processing plant in Telangana, launched its super app ITCMAARS, to provide farmers with AI/ML-driven crop advice, and announced plans to introduce a variety of plant-based meat alternatives.

The company recently announced plans to spin off its hotel business separating it from its cigarettes and food units and would hold a 40% stake in the newly formed entity. In a statement, ITC said its hotels business had matured over the years and was well-poised “to chart its own growth path as a separate entity in the fast-growing hospitality industry”.

In August, the Kolkata-based posted a 17.6% YoY jump in its net profit for the quarter ended June but said its gross revenue for this quarter declined 7.3% YoY due to government restrictions on wheat exports.

8

State Bank of India

Market value: US$60.38 billion

Chairman: Dinesh Kumar Khara

SBI Chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara

Armed with a 200-year heritage dating back to 1806 and the Bank of Calcutta, State Bank of India (SBI) is not only India’s oldest bank but its largest commercial bank in terms of assets, deposits, profits, baches, customers and employees – commanding nearly one-quarter share of the domestic Indian banking market. It is also the most trusted Bank by Indians.

Headquartered in Mumbai, and majority-owned by the Government of India, this Fortune 500 entity provides a wide range of products and services which includes commercial enterprises, large corporate, public bodies and institutional customers – and delivers an extensive network, with more than 22,000 branches in India and a further 206 offices across 36 countries.

The bank is operated by one chairman and four Managing Directors, with current Chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara chairing SBI until August 2024. This month, Vinay Tonse was announced as MD of SBI, one of four, until November 2025.

SBI’s non-banking subsidiaries and joint ventures span life insurance, merchant banking, mutual funds, credit cards, private equity and security trading – and on the technology front, SBI says it has expanded the digital base manifold in recent years.

The bank is investing heavily in data analytics to drive customer acquisition on the asset side and has significantly ramped up its digital lending activities. Launched five years ago, its banking app YONO (You Only Need One) offers digital banking solutions and an online marketplace and has since expanded to include YONO Business to cater to SMEs.

The bank also has a long history of association with non-profit ventures, with a focus on community services.

9

Bharti Airtel

Market value: US$67.50 billion

CEO: Gopal Vittal

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Bharti Airtel, commonly known as Airtel, is one of the leading telcos in India – and the flagship company of Bharti Enterprises, one of India’s foremost first-generation corporations with interests in telecoms, space, digital solutions, real estate and hospitality.

Founded by Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal in 1995, and headquartered in New Delhi, Airtel has grown to become a global telecommunications conglomerate and India’s largest integrated communications solutions provider, having acquired various former telcos and operators across India and beyond, including Zain’s Africa operations and Augere Wireless.

Ranked among the top three mobile service providers around the world, as per subscribers, and serving over half a billion customers across its operations, Airtel has a global network in 17 countries across India, Africa, the Middle East, US, Europe and SAARC regions. In India, Airtel delivers services across 700 cities.

Airtel offers a variety of services, including mobile voice and data services, broadband internet, digital TV, and enterprise solutions and has strategically located submarine cables and satellite network in 50 countries across five continents.

Airtel has also ventured into various digital initiatives, among these, Airtel Payments Bank and Airtel Money

Recently, CEO Gopal Vittal described 5G as a “long haul” and said the company was not in any race to beat its drum on having the largest, fastest rollout, but was instead acutely focused on delivering a good experience for its 5G customers.

Airtel’s revenue in the September 2023 quarter rose 7.3% YoY backed by strong and consistent performance in India operations.

10

Bajaj Finance

Market value: US$52.38 billion

MD: Rajeev Jain

Rajeev Jain is Managing Director of Bajaj Finance
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