From finance to tech to retail, in most industries the largest and best known companies trade on the public market. Real estate, on the other hand, has historically been a private game and even today privately held property developers and owners often dominate the headlines. This year private Related Companies opened Hudson Yards, the most expensive and (debated) real estate development in American history, while Donald Trump became president thanks in part to the allure of his (relatively small) family-owned real estate outfit.
Nevertheless, 35 companies primarily in the business of owning real estate made the Global 2000–Forbes’ ranking of the world’s largest and most powerful public companies–for 2019. The annual list judges public companies on four equally-weighted metrics: revenue, profit, assets and market value.
Brookfield Asset Management, number 118 overall, takes the top spot among real estate companies again this year by outshining the competition on nearly every metric. Brookfield has, for the past year, the largest assets ($256 billion), highest revenues ($57.6 billion), second highest profits ($3.5 billion) and fourth highest market cap ($46 billion). For more on Brookfield, read Forbes’ 2017 profile of CEO Bruce Flatt.
With headquarters in Toronto, the diversified firm is one of just two Canadian real estate players to make the 2000 and the country’s fourth largest company overall. Twenty-three of the 35 largest real estate companies in the world hail from the U.S., including six of the top ten. France and Australia have three companies each, and the United Kingdom ties Canada with two.
Link, a Hong Kong-based real estate investment trust that specializes in retail, was the one real estate company that out-earned Brookfield in the most recent 12-months with $5.7 billion in profit. Three American firms, however, have higher market valuations: cell tower giant American Tower Corporation, mall operator Simon Property Group and warehouse owner Prologis. Our list of real estate owners does not include companies such as Blackstone, the private equity giant that has a massive property portfolio but also invests in many other asset types.