Top 10 CEOs in Europe

William Smith
- Leadership - Aug 07, 2019

Business Chief counts down the top 10 CEOs in Europe according to company size, with reference to Forbes’ 2019 Global 2000 ranking of the world’s largest public companies.


10. Alexey Miller – Gazprom

The longest serving CEO on this list, Alexey Miller has been Chairman of the Management Committee of Russian energy company Gazprom since 2001. Born out of the Soviet Union’s Ministry of Gas Industry in 1989, the company is in the process of building its new headquarters, the Lakhta Center skyscrape, in Saint Petersburg. Gazprom came in 40th place worldwide, with a market capitalisation of $59.9bn.


9. Ola Källenius – Daimler

Recently succeeding one of the more publicly prominent CEOs in Dieter Zetsche, Swede Ola Källenius became CEO of Daimler in May 2019. The automotive corporation sells vehicles mainly under the Daimler, Mercedes and Smart brands, and competes in Formula One through its Mercedes-Benz division. Källenius joined Daimler in 1993, and has worked for the company in the US, Germany and the UK. 37th on the global list, Daimler has a market capitalisation of $71.3bn.


8. Jean-Laurent Bonnafé – BNP Paribas

Jean-Laurent Bonnafé has been CEO of French banking group BNP Paribas since 2011. An engineering graduate from the École Polytechnique and the École des Mines, he has been with the company since 1993 when he joined as an investment banker. 34th on Forbes’ list, the company has a market capitalisation totalling $68.7bn. It is the largest French bank, with its retail banking core serving France, Belgium and Italy.


7. José Antonio Álvarez – Santander

Spain’s Santander Group is the 30th largest company worldwide by Forbes’ reckoning. Since 2015, José Antonio Álvarez has been the group’s CEO, having joined the bank in 2002 and was appointed CFO in 2004. Growing out of the original Banco Santander, the bank has acquired and rebranded banking institutions across the world with the Santander name, including branches in the UK, Poland, the US and many other countries. Its market capitalisation was thought to be around $84.1bn as of 2019.


6. Patrick Pouyanné – Total

Chairman and CEO of French oil and gas company, Total, Patrick Pouyanné attended the prestigious École Polytechnique in Paris and graduated with a degree in engineering. He joined Total in 2000 after it absorbed petroleum company Elf and acceded to his current position in 2014, after the death of predecessor Christophe de Margerie. 25th on Forbes’ ranking, the company’s market capitalisation is approximately $149.5bn. It is headquartered in Courbevoie, near Paris, in the skyscraper known as the Tour Total.


5. Bob Dudley – BP

Bob Dudley is CEO of British oil and gas company, BP, succeeding Tony Hayward in October 2010. Dudley worked for chemical and oil company, Amoco, before they were acquired by BP in 1998, and has spent his whole career in the industry. BP, with its market capitalisation of $149.5bn, came in 24th place on the Forbes Global 2000. As with other oil and gas giants, the company is vertically integrated and operates in an upstream and downstream capacity.


4. Oliver Bäte – Allianz

German Executive, Oliver Bäte, has been Chairman of the Board of Management (CEO) of compatriot insurance giant Allianz since May 2015. He started at the company in 2008 as COO and subsequently served as CFO from 2009-2012. Allianz is 23rd on Forbes’ ranking, possessing a market capitalisation of $102.3bn. One of the world’s largest financial services and insurance companies, it operates in sectors ranging from general insurance to asset management.


3. John Flint – HSBC Holdings

John Flint was appointed CEO of HSBC Holdings in February 2018, succeeding Stuart Gulliver’s eight-year reign. From the county of Yorkshire in the United Kingdom, Flint has been with HSBC for around 30 years, having joined in 1989 as an International Officer working in Asia. The British banking and financial services company is 21st on Forbes’ Global 2000 and has a market capitalisation of $175.5bn. The organisation acts as a holding company for HSBC’s retail, commercial, markets and private banking businesses.


2. Herbert Diess – Volkswagen Group

Automotive industry titan, Volkswagen Group, boasts a stable of brands including the eponymous Volkswagen, Porsche, Bugatti and Audi. 18th on Forbes’ list, the company’s market capitalisation is some $92bn. Dr. Herbert Diess is the company’s Chairman of the Board of Management and CEO equivalent. With a degree in mechanical engineering, he obtained a doctorate in assembly automation from Munich Technical University in 1987. He succeeded predecessor Matthias Müller in 2018, having previously been head of VW’s passenger car brand.


1. Ben van Beurden – Royal Dutch Shell

In ninth place on Forbes’ Global 2000, Royal Dutch Shell is the largest public European company. Bernardus Cornelis Adriana Margriet “Ben” van Beurden has had a 35-year career at the British-Dutch oil and gas company, having initially joined in 1983. Vertically integrated, Shell is active across all levels of the industry, with its market capitalisation calculated by Forbes as $264.9bn. Van Beurden became CEO in January 2015, succeeding Peter Voser, and is the second Dutch CEO of the Hague-headquartered business since the position was created in 2004.

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