The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is one of the 10 largest global securities exchanges by value, with a total market capitalisation of about A$2 trillion. It is also the largest market for interest rate derivatives in Asia and among the top five exchanges globally for raising capital. The ASX, which is based in Sydney, was the first major financial market open every day.
The Australian Stock Exchange was formed on the 1st of April 1987, combining the country's six independent state-based stock exchanges. Each of those exchanges dated back to the 1800s, although stock trading in Australia can be traced back as far as 1788.
When the Australian Stock Exchange and the Sydney Futures Exchange merged in 2006, it was initially called the Australian Securities Exchange, but as of the 1st of August 2010 the company has been known as the ASX Group.
Top Australian Companies By Market Cap
The 10 largest companies traded on the ASX as defined by their market cap as of July 2021, include the country's four largest banks and a global financial services firm, a large pharmaceuticals company, two retailers, an international natural resources company, and a telecommunications firm.
1. Commonwealth Bank
The Commonwealth Bank of Australia is the largest bank in Australia in terms of assets, deposits and market cap. It is also the largest company in Australia in terms of market cap, at A$175.88 billion.
The bank was founded in 1911 and began operations the following year. The bank employs 52,000 people (as of this writing) and has more than 800,000 shareholders. It is headquartered in Sydney.
The bank offers a wide variety of banking services in Australia and New Zealand as well as internationally, including retail and business banking, investment banking, wealth management, and international financial services. It also operates 1,172 branches and 3,963 ATMs in Australia.
2. BHP Group Limited
BHP Group Limited is one of the world's leading resources companies and is the second-largest company by market cap, at A$152.91 billion.
BHP was incorporated in 1885 and is headquartered in Melbourne. It employs more than 72,000 employees and contractors, most of whom are located in Australia and the Americas. The company is among the top producers of iron ore, coal and copper in the world. It also has substantial interests in oil and gas.
3. CSL Limited
CSL Limited is the third-largest company in Australia in terms of market cap, at A$133.22 billion.
The company was founded in 1916 as Commonwealth Serum Laboratories "to service the health needs of a nation isolated" by World War I, the company's website says. It was incorporated as CSL Limited in 1991 and listed on the ASX in 1994. It is headquartered in Parkville, Australia.
In addition to Australia, the company does business primarily in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Switzerland and China. It operates through two segments: CSL Behring offers plasma therapies for immunodeficiency, bleeding disorders and neurological disorders; and Seqirus manufactures and distributes non-plasma biotherapeutic products and influenza vaccines.
4. Westpac Banking Corp
Westpac is Australia's first bank and its oldest company, dating back to 1817, when it was created as the Bank of New South Wales. It changed its name to Westpac Banking Corp. in October 1982 following the acquisition of the Commercial Bank of Australia.
The bank is the fourth largest company in terms of market cap, at A$90.32 billion.
Based in Sydney, the bank provides banking and financial services in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the Pacific region, and internationally. It operates through four divisions: Consumer, Business, Westpac Institutional Bank, and Westpac New Zealand.
5. National Australia Bank
National Australia Bank is the country's third-largest bank and its largest business bank, although it also does business with consumers. Founded in 1834 and based in Docklands, the company had a market cap of A$85.58 billion.
The company employs more than 30,000 workers and serves nine million customers in Australia, New Zealand and globally.
6. ANZ Banking Group Limited
Melbourne-based ANZ is the fourth-largest bank in Australia and the sixth-largest company by market cap, at A$78.77 billion at 1 February 2020.
The bank was created in 1835 as the Bank of Australasia. Today it operates in 33 markets globally, including Australia and New Zealand, among many others.
7. FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LTD
Fortescue Metals Group Limited engages in the exploration, development, production, processing, and sale of iron ore, copper and gold both in Australia and internationally.
Fortescue Metals Group Limited was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Perth, Australia. As of July 2021, the company has market cap of A$78.26 billion.
8. Wesfarmers Limited
Another retailer, Perth-based Wesfarmers Limited is the eighth-largest Australian company by market cap, at A$70.63 billion.
Founded in 1914 as a Western Australian farmers' cooperative, Wesfarmers' operations include home improvement and outdoor living through its Bunnings stores; apparel and general merchandise through its 231 Kmart stores and 289 Target stores; and office supplies through its 167 Officeworks stores.
Its industrials division sells chemicals, energy products and fertilisers, and industrial and safety products. The company says it is one of Australia's largest employers and has a shareholder base of about 484,000.
9. Macquarie Group Limited
Macquarie Group Limited is a diversified financial services company that provides clients with asset management, advisory, banking, and risk and capital solutions.
Based in Sydney, the company was founded in 1969 as Hill Samuel Australia with a staff of three. It is now a global business operating in over 27 countries specializing in resources, agriculture and commodities, and energy and infrastructure, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region. The company ranks ninth in terms of market cap at A$58.58 billion.
10. RESMED INC
ResMed Inc. develops, manufactures, distributes, and markets medical devices and cloud-based software applications that diagnose, treat, and manage respiratory disorders comprising sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, neuromuscular disease, and other chronic diseases
ResMed's current market cap is A$51.37 billion