Brisbane’s top companies have been a hotbed of growth in 2021 - a year that saw the combined market cap of the city’s largest ASX-listed entities rise by almost 50 per cent to just shy of $120 billion.
While this increase has been aided by seven new companies joining the list, including four worth more than $1 billion each, the value of Brisbane’s corporate sector has accelerated through mergers and acquisitions, a rise in the take-up of new technology and a broad-based resurgence in business activity.
While the resources sector is always a major contributor to shareholder wealth in the Brisbane list, especially with the coal sector benefitting from record prices, it is the rapid take-up of EV technology that has led to a rise in fortunes for new and emerging lithium players.
Orocobre (ASX: ORE) is one of this year’s biggest movers, galloping up the list as its value surged almost tenfold to more than $6 billion, driven by its merger with Galaxy Resources (ASX: GXY).
Technology investor PPK Group (ASX: PPK) has also improved its position after spinning off lithium-sulphur battery start-up Li-S Energy (ASX: LIS) following a $34 million capital raise.
Technology stocks are among the biggest movers in this year’s list, with another battery technology company, Novonix (ASX: NVX), bursting into the top 10 for the first time as the former minnow’s market value breached $5 billion.
Brisbane is also reaping the rewards of a maturing start-up culture that has seen fledgling companies become established drivers of business growth.
Bevan Slattery’s NEXTDC (ASX: NXT), Megaport (ASX: MP1) and Superloop (ASX: SLC) are now entrenched on the list as they continue to grow their global profiles and market caps while delivering year-on-year increases in revenue.
Values grown broadly across most of the companies included in this year’s list. The lowest-ranked company is worth almost three times the market cap of the lowest ranked company last year.
Despite challenging conditions, the number of companies worth more than $1 billion has grown from 18 to 26, making up more than half the top 50 for the first time.
Some of the companies that didn’t increase share value have found themselves in lower positions. Property investor Cromwell (ASX: CMW), which faced a boardroom battle with renowned corporate raider Gary Weiss that led to the departure of founding CEO Paul Weightman, is well out of the top 10 even though its market capitalisation remained fairly steady.
A rise in merger and acquisition activity could lead to some companies making a final appearance in the list. Among them is Cardno (ASX: CDD) which has sold a significant portion of its business and is mulling the sale of the rest of its key assets.
Another is Senex Energy (ASX: SXY) which has recommended shareholders accept an improved $900 million takeover offer from South Korean giant Posco International.
No matter how big Brisbane companies become, they are always notable because they retain strong ties to the entrepreneurs who started the businesses.
About 20 per cent of companies on this list are either led by their founders - or the company founders still retain board representation. Flight Centre CEO Graham Turner, Novonix CEO Chris Burns and TechnologyOne (ASX: TNE) chairman Adrian Di Marco are just three founders to be found in three of Brisbane’s biggest companies.
All this demonstrates a depth and diversity for Brisbane’s top companies. When combined with their market-leading business models, the 2021 list is a true celebration of entrepreneurship and heralds a changing dynamic that continues to reshape the city’s corporate scene.
Market caps are based on the close of trade, 29 November 2021. This list was prepared with information provided by the ASX.
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