Two of Singapore’s largest companies are major banks while another two operate in the food processing industry. Other major export-oriented companies based in Singapore spam a diverse range of businesses from investments to telecommunications.
To shed global trade perspective on recent company performance, the overall value of Singapore’s exported goods increased by 0.5% from US$409.8 billion in 2014 to $411.7 billion during 2018. Year over year, Singaporean exports appreciated by 10.3% from 2017 to 2018.
In the analysis below, we compare 10 of Singapore’s major exports-related companies based on asset values, sales and profitability as of December 2018. Also specified is the number of employees for each business.
Singapore’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
Below are Singapore’s biggest exports-related companies organized by asset value. Shown within parentheses is the primary industry in which each company operates. Also shown is the change in asset value as of December 2018 compared to 2017.
- DBS Group (investment holding firm): US$404.1 billion, up 21.2% from 2017
- Oversea-Chinese Banking (regional bank): $351.2 billion, up 5.5%
- United Overseas Bank (regional bank): $277.9 billion, up 5.3%
- Wilmar International (food processing): $40.9 billion, up 10.5%
- SingTel (telecommunications services): $36.6 billion, up 10.8%
- Keppel Corp (industrial conglomerate): $21.1 billion, up 4.1%
- Singapore Airlines (airliner): $20.1 billion, up 18%
- Olam International (food processing): $16.7 billion, up 2.8%
- Flex (electronics): $13.7 billion, up 7%
- China Aviation Oil (trading company): $2 billion, up 49.3%
All 10 of these large Singaporean businesses grew their asset values from 2017 to December 2018. The strongest year-over-year improvements belong to trading specialist China Aviation Oil (up 49.3%) and investment firm DBS Group (up 21.2%).
The mildest increase was 2.8% for food processor Olam International.
Sales is the life blood of most businesses, and particularly for firms that compete in international trade. Nine of Singapore’s largest exports-related companies boosted their year-over-year sales as of December 2018 led by trading company’s China Aviation Oil’s robust 45.7% gain.
- Wilmar International: US$43.8 billion, up 5.7% from 2017
- Flex: $25.4 billion, up 6.9%
- Olam International: $19 billion, up 27.4%
- China Aviation Oil: $17 billion, up 45.7%
- SingTel: $12.7 billion, up 6.3%
- DBS Group: $11.8 billion, up 14.8%
- Singapore Airlines: $11.2 billion, up 4.1%
- Oversea-Chinese Banking: $10.1 billion, up 17.4%
- United Overseas Bank: $9.4 billion, up 14.6%
- Keppel Corp: $4.6 billion, down -6.1%
The sole sales decline was a -6.1% setback for industrial conglomerate Keppel Corp.
All of Singapore’s top 10 major export companies were profitable as of December 2018. Growing their black ink at the fastest pace were food processor Olam International (up 49.3%), telecom provider SingTel (up 47.5%) then electronics firm Flex (up 45.9%).
- SingTel: US$4.1 billion, up 47.5% from 2017
- DBS Group: $3.4 billion, up 10.7%
- Oversea-Chinese Banking: $3.2 billion, up 28%
- United Overseas Bank: $2.6 billion, up 18.2%
- Wilmar International: $1.2 billion, up 22%
- Flex: $429 million, up 45.9%
- Singapore Airlines: $415 million, down -20.8%
- Olam International: $380 million, up 49.3%
- Keppel Corp: $217 million, down -61.8%
- China Aviation Oil: $87 million, down -2%
There were three profitability declines year over year, led by industrial conglomerate Keppel Corp via its -61.8% decrease. The other two slowdowns were a -20.8% drop for Singapore Airlines and a -2% downtick for trader China Aviation Oil.
The top Singaporean export company in terms of the number of employees is electronics behemoth Flex followed by food processor Wilmar International.
- China Aviation Oil: 100 employees
- DBS Group: 24,174 employees
- Flex: 150,000 employees
- Keppel Corp: 21,862 employees
- Olam International: 72,000 employees
- Oversea-Chinese Banking: 29,174 employees
- Singapore Airlines: 24,350 employees
- SingTel: 25,468 employees
- United Overseas Bank: 24,146 employees
- Wilmar International: 90,000 employees
All of Singapore’s top 10 major export companies have their headquarters located in the island city-state.
Note: Some of the above company offerings may include products other than the principal category shown within parenthesis under the Assets tab.
For example, China Aviation Oil (Singapore) operates an investment holding firm that trades aviation oil and petroleum products. The company also supplies fuel to key international airports in China, and also sells gas, fuel oil and petrochemicals.
See also Singapore’s Top 10 Exports, Singapore’s Top Trading Partners and Singapore’s Top 10 Imports
Forbes Global 2000 individual company profiles, Example of top Singapore company compiled for this study: Wilmar International. Accessed on October 16, 2019
Forbes Global 2000 rankings for Singapore, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on October 16, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on October 16, 2019
Wikipedia, Category: Companies of Singapore. Accessed on October 16, 2019
Wikipedia, List of companies of Singapore. Accessed on October 16, 2019