Many large and successful businesses in the world remain privately owned. These companies have been able to grow and succeed without the need to go public and answer to shareholders. 

In this article, we will take a look at some of the biggest and most valuable private companies in the world. We will also explore why some businesses choose to stay private, and what benefits they can enjoy as a result. 

What are the largest privately-owned companies? 

Many privately-owned companies are not publicly traded on stock exchanges. This means that their shares are not available to the general public. Some of the largest and most valuable private companies in the world are not listed on these exchanges. However, they are still owned by a limited number of shareholders and can be worthy competitors to public companies. The biggest privately owned company in the United States is Cargill, Inc. 

This agricultural giant had revenues of $134.4 billion in May of 2021, making it the largest private company in America according to Forbes. Cargill is followed by Koch Industries, a massive conglomerate with interests in energy, chemicals, and more. 

Koch Industries and Cargill often compete for the title of the largest private company in America year over year. Other notable large private companies include Deloitte, Albertsons, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Mars Inc. These companies all had revenues of over $30.0 billion in 2019. 

What is the largest privately owned company in the US? 

As mentioned before, the biggest privately owned company in the United States is Cargill, a food and agriculture conglomerate. Founded in 1865, Cargill now employs thousands of people across the world and has an annual revenue of $113.5 billion. The company has been able to stay private for so long because it is controlled by the Cargill-MacMillan family, which owns 88% of the business. 

What is the highest valued private company? 

Cargill takes the title of the highest-valued private company. This is due in part to its long history and the fact that it is controlled by a single-family. The company has been able to stay private and out of the public eye for over 150 years. Before its IPO, Uber had a valuation of $76 billion according to CNBC

Its high value does not however qualify it to be on this list as it is no longer a private company. The agricultural conglomerate remains the highest valued private company because its owners have no plans on making them public any time soon. This keeps them on top as new companies often become publicly traded eventually. 

Which businesses are privately owned? 

Many businesses are privately owned. Some of the most popular ones are not publicly traded. This can be seen with companies like Cargill and Koch Industries which are both massive businesses but remain private. Other companies like Deloitte, Albertsons, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Mars Inc. are all privately owned as well. 

Here are the top 10 privately-owned companies in the United States based on revenue data in 2019: 

  1. Cargill 
  2. Koch Industries 
  3. Albertsons 
  4. Deloitte 
  5. PricewaterhouseCoopers 
  6. Mars 
  7. Ernst and Young 
  8. Publix Supermarkets
  9. Reyes Holdings 
  10. Pilot Flying 

The benefits of staying private 

There are many benefits that a company can enjoy by remaining private. One benefit is that the company does not have to answer to shareholders. This can help the company make decisions without having to worry about short-term profits. 

Another benefit is that the company can stay off of the public radar. This can be helpful for businesses that are in industries that are constantly under scrutiny. For example, Cargill has been able to stay out of the public eye for much of its history. Finally, remaining private can help a company avoid hostile takeover attempts. This is because public companies are often targets for these kinds of attacks. 

The disadvantages of staying private 

There are also some disadvantages that a company may face by remaining private. One disadvantage is that the company will have a harder time raising capital. This is because private companies often have a harder time convincing investors to invest in them. 

Another disadvantage is that the company may have a smaller pool of potential employees to choose from. This is because many people only want to work for publicly traded companies. Finally, private companies may have a harder time expanding their businesses. 

This is because they often have to use their own capital to finance expansion projects. The advantages and disadvantages of staying private are something that every company must consider before deciding to go public. There are many benefits to remaining private, but there are also some drawbacks. Ultimately, it is up to the company to decide what is best for them. 

Which country has the largest private companies in the world? 

According to the following list, Switzerland has the largest private company in the world. Vitol is a Swiss energy and commodities company that had revenues of approx. $231 billion in USD in 2020 according to 

The top five largest private companies in the world based on 2020 revenues: 

  1. Vitol - Geneva, Switzerland 
  2. Trafigura - Singapore 
  3. Huawei - Shenzhen, China 
  4. Cargill - Minnesota, USA 
  5. Schwarz Group - Neckarsulm, Germany 

Largest private companies by valuation 

When evaluating private companies, it can be difficult to find the exact number. However, there are estimates performed by experts that can help value a company. Here are the three largest private companies by valuation in the world according to US News.


This Chinese company is best known for their product TikTok which is a social media app. The company was founded in 2012 and has over 1 billion users. There are no signs of them stopping and they have proven to be capable of becoming an international business. They currently have the highest valuation as a private company with a potential valuation of around $90 billion. 


Elon Musk's space exploration company is also valued highly. Starlink satellite and starship reusable rockets are just a couple of the ambitious projects that SpaceX has in store. They are currently valued at $36 billion. 


To end this list, we have Cargill. As mentioned earlier, they have the highest revenues and are the largest private company by revenues. Although they may not be the largest in terms of valuation, that can change as SpaceX and ByteDance might go public one day. Cargill is currently valued at $40 billion. 


There are many privately held companies in the world. Some are well known to the public while others are only known to industry experts. They share a similarity in that retail investors can not own shares in the business. 

You won't see a ticker symbol next to their name or on your trading app. However, they are major players in the global economy, even if they prefer to privately operate. In this article, we explored the biggest private companies by valuation and revenue. You won't be able to invest in them, but they can be key components to your research as competitors to the stocks on your watchlist.