Formosa Plastics Group (FPG, 台塑集團) topped the nation's 250 conglomerates last year to become the largest business in the traditional sector in terms of sales (NT$938 billion), after-tax revenues (NT$70 billion) and net profit (NT$747 billion), according to a study released yesterday by the China Credit Information Service (CCIS, 中華徵信所).
In terms of assets, however, the Lin Yuan Group (霖園集團) is the nation's biggest company, with NT$2.38 trillion in assets, CCIS president David Chang (張大為) told a press conference.
Formosa Plastics ranked seventh with NT$1.44 trillion in assets.
The others on the top-10 list of highest assets were all financial holding companies.
Mega Financial Holding Co (兆豐金控) came in second with NT$1.78 trillion, followed by Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金) with NT$1.57 trillion, First Financial Holding Co (第一金控) with NT$1.5 trillion, Shin Kong Group (新光集團) with NT$1.49 trillion and Hua Nan Financial Holdings Co (華南金控) with NT$1.47 trillion.
Both Shin Kong Financial Holding Co (新光金控) and Taishin Financial Holdings Co (台新金控) are subsidiaries of the Shin Kong Group.
Most financial-service conglomerates on the top-10 list had assets of more than NT$1 trillion, which would make it hard for other industries to compete, Chang said.
In the high-tech sector, United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) held the top spot with NT$416 billion in assets while Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密) had the highest sales (NT$479 billion) last year, Chang said.
According to the study, Princo Corp (巨擘科技) was an investor-friendly company with a 41.26 percent in net profit margin, 27.86 percent in return on assets (ROA) and 54.92 percent of return on equity (ROE).
* The Lin Yuan Group is the biggest company, with NT$2.38 trillion in assets.
* Mega Financial Holding Co is second in terms of assets with NT$1.78 trillion while Chinatrust Financial Holding Co is third with NT$1.57 trillion.
* Formosa Plastics Group is seventh in terms of assets (NT$1.44 trillion) but biggest in terms of sales (NT$938 billion), after-tax revenues (NT$70 billion) and net profit (NT$747 billion).
Taiwan Semiconductor Manu-facturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) was the best composite performer.
According to CCIS editor-in-chief Liu Jen (劉任), the assets of the 250 polled conglomerates grew an average of 18 percent last year to NT$126.5 billion -- higher than the average of NT$113.4 billion among 231 conglomerates surveyed the previous year.
The number of loss-making companies dropped to 45 last year from 73 in 2002, which showed that more companies have survived the worst of the 2002 economic recession, Liu said.
The study also looked into some 7,500 subsidiaries of the conglomerates, 54 percent of which had overseas subsidiaries including China-based ones.
Hon Hai, which had the highest number of overseas branches -- 294 -- including 83 China-based ones -- also reaped the highest after-tax revenues from its overseas arms, NT$61.8 billion.
"China has become the most important manufacturing base for Taiwanese conglomerates, some of which plan to go global," Chang said.
He said that companies that take up a sizable market share of China's domestic-demand markets will dominate the Asia-Pacific rim business community.
He also advised local companies to look to world markets for business and profits, because the China market is only one part of the larger market.