Top 10 CEOs in Europe

Business Chief ranks the top 10 CEOs in Europe according to company revenue, with reference to Statista and Forbes’ 2019 Global 2000 ranking of the world’s largest public companies


10. Jean-Laurent Bonnafé (BNP Paribas)

Jean-Laurent Bonnafé is the CEO of French banking group BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank. Before joining the company in 1993 as an investment banker, he studied engineering at the École Polytechnique and the École des Mine. He became CEO in 2011 and remains widely credited for the successful acquisitions of Paribas, BNL and Fortis. Today, BNP Paribas operates across France, Belgium and Italy and has a market capitalisation of US$68.7bn.

Revenue: US$46.8bn

HQ: Paris, France

No. of staff: 196,000


9. José Antonio Álvarez (Santander)

Santander is the 30th largest company in the world, according to Forbes, and CEO José Antonio Álvarez, ranks as the ninth most wealthy CEO in Europe. Álvarez joined the bank in 2002 and became CFO two years later. The group has grown exponentially since then, evolving the Banco Santander name through acquisitions and rebranding, creating branches in Poland, the UK and the US. Álvarez became CEO in 2015 and an Executive Vice Chairman in January 2019. 

Revenue: US$53.68bn

HQ: Boadilla del Monte, Spain

No. of staff: 188,000


8. Noel Quinn (HSBC Holdings)

Noel Quinn has been the interim CEO of HSBC holdings for a little over six months. Before taking up the position, he was appointed Chief Executive of Global Commercial Banking in December 2015. HSBC is listed on both the London and Hong Kong stock exchanges and, from 2011 to 2015, he was based in Hong Kong, filling the position of Regional Head of Commercial Banking for Asia Pacific. Today, HSBC is the seventh largest bank in the world with total assets of over US$2.56trn, the largest bank in Europe and the second largest company on the London Stock Exchange. 

Revenue: US$64.3bn

HQ: London, UK

No. of staff: 235,000


7. Alexey Miller (Gazprom)

Alexey Miller is the Chairman of the Management committee of Russian energy company Gazprom, the 40th largest organisation worldwide. The public joint stock company was founded in 1989 and is majority-owned by the Russian government, with the remaining shares listed across the London, Moscow and Frankfurt stock markets. Gazprom is currently in the process of moving its headquarters to the Lakhta Center skyscraper in Saint Petersburg. Miller is the longest serving CEO featured in this top 10. 

Revenue: US$112bn

HQ: Moscow, Russia

No. of staff: 469,600


6. Oliver Bäte (Allianz)

Oliver Bäte has been Chairman of the Board of Management (CEO) of Allianz since May 2015. He originally held the position of COO when he joined the company in 2008, serving as CFO from 2009-2012. Bäte graduated from both the University of Cologne and the New York University Stern School of Business. According to Forbes, as of 2014, Allianz is the largest insurance company and financial services group in the world, specialising in a number of products ranging from general insurance to asset management.

Revenue: US$114.8bn

HQ: Munich, Germany

No. of staff: 147,000


5. Ola Källenius (Daimler)

Ola Källenius became CEO of Daimler in May 2019. Known for its automotives, Daimler is known for its eponymous brand along with Mercedes and Smart. Källenius started out with the company in 1993 and has since held a number of roles, representing the company across Europe and in the US. From 2010 to 2013, he held the position of Chairman of the Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. From 2013, he sat as a member on the executive board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, responsible for sales. At the start of 2015 he was appointed to the board of management for Daimler AG, and from 2017 managed the "Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development" division. He succeeds Thomas Weber, who had previously held the role since 2004.

Revenue: US$190bn

HQ: Stuttgart, Germany

No. of staff: 298,683


4. Patrick Pouyanné (Total)

Patrick Pouyanné is the current CEO of the French oil and gas company, Total, and has held the role since 2014. He graduated from École Polytechnique in Paris with a degree in engineering, and joined Total in 2000 after it acquired the petroleum company, Elf. Total, which was founded in 1924, has emerged today as one of the six supermajor oil companies in the world.

In September 2015, Pouyanné was decorated as a Knight of the Legion of Honour.

Revenue: US$209.4bn

HQ: Paris, France

No. of staff: 104,000


3. Herbert Diess (Volkswagen Group)

Dr Herbert Diess is the Chairman of the Board of Management of the world’s largest automaker, Volkswagen Group. The Group is home to a number of automotive brands such as Volkswagen, Porsche, Bugatti and Audi. Diess has been CEO since 2018, having succeeded Matthias Müller. Diess holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a doctorate in Assembly Automation, graduating from Munich Technical University in 1987. In 2018, Diess was named among the "Best CEOs in the World" by CEOWORLD magazine.

Revenue: US$278bn

HQ: London, UK

No. of staff: 656,000


2. Bob Dudley (BP)

Bob Dudley is the American-born CEO of British oil and gas company BP. Dudley’s BP career dates back to 1998 when it acquired his previous employer, oil company Amoco. He has since remained with the supermajor and is due to retire this year, preceding Bernard Looney. BP Chairman Helge Lund said: "Bob has dedicated his whole career to the service of this industry.” Helge also acknowledged that Dudley was appointed CEO during one of the most challenging times in BP’s history. 

Revenue: US$303.7bn

HQ: London, UK

No. of staff: 73,000


1. Ben van Beurden (Royal Dutch Shell)

Ranking in first place is Bernardus Cornelis Adriana Margriet “Ben” van Beurden, CEO of oil supermajor Royal Dutch Shell, the largest public company in Europe. Achieving an annual revenue of over US$388.4bn, the British-Dutch company ranks in ninth place on Forbes’ Global 2000. With a career spanning over 35 years, van Beurden became CEO in January 2015, succeeding Peter Voser, making him the second Dutch CEO of the company since its creation in 2004. The company continues to operate through its three major segments: Upstream, Downstream, and Corporate.

Shell has won countless awards, and ranked across a number of Forbes awards for Best Employer 2019 in the following categories: New Grads, Diversity, Women, and in the America and Canada regions.

Revenue: US$388.4bn

HQ: The Hague, Netherlands

No. of staff: 81,000

For more information on all business in Europe, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief Europe.

Follow Business Chief on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Like what you see! Signup for our weekly newsletter