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Cargill loses title of America's largest private company

By Kristen Leigh Painter, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Business News

Koch Industries has supplanted Cargill Inc. as America's largest private company for the first time in 12 years.

It's only the third time in Forbes' 35-year history of ranking America's private companies that Minnesota-based Cargill wasn't the largest.

Forbes ranks companies by their annual sales and the gap between Koch and Cargill is relatively narrow — just $400 million.

Koch Industries, a Wichita, Kan.-based conglomerate with interests in energy, chemicals and many other industries, had an estimated revenue of $115 billion in 2019, representing a 4.5% growth over the previous year. Cargill reported fiscal year 2020 revenue of $114.6 billion, an increase of $1.1 billion over the year prior.

Cargill, as one of the world's largest food and agriculture companies, faced a series of challenges last year, including the U.S.-China trade war, African swine fever and — to top it all off — a pandemic that affected its 155,000-person global workforce in various ways.

 

"This was a year that tested all assumptions: about how markets and supply chains function in an age of global interdependency; about what it means to truly deliver for customers, consumers and communities; and about how companies can and should operate in a crisis," Dave MacLennan, Cargill's chief executive, said in its annual report.

Cargill debuted at the No. 1 spot with revenue of $30 billion in 1985 when Forbes began publishing list of private companies. The private company list is a bit squishier than public company rankings. Revenue figures are pulled from voluntary disclosures, Securities and Exchange Commission filings — which are required in instances of publicly traded debt — and estimates from Forbes researchers and outside sources.

According to Cargill, it reinvests on average 80% of its operating cash flow back into the company.

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