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Microsoft leapfrogs to top of FT500

Basks in reflected glory of IT sector

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The Great Satan of Software may now be the world’s biggest company, according to the Financial Times’ annual ranking of the global top 500, but this has as much to do with fortune as it has with business acumen. The latest FT500 listing clearly shows Microsoft’s move to first position, from fourth last year. This is as much a reflection of the overall changing face of the FT’s league table. IT stocks have risen across the board, with companies such as Cisco, Lucent, MCI Worldcom and AOL all jumping up the ranking. European IT companies’ stocks have similarly risen. Deutsche Telekom has moved from 44 to 27 and BT from 64 to 25. Vodafone, which recently snapped up AirTouch, has rocketed from 226 to 81. If anything, Microsoft’s move to first position implies that investors’ confidence has not yet been dented by the marathon anti-trust case currently slugging along in the US. A company’s FT500 ranking reflects it’s market capitalisation, which is determined by its share price multiplied by the number of shares in issue. Bill Gates is keen to point out that’s all he’s doing: capitalising on the state of the market. It remains to be seen, however, how long the market tolerates this sort of capitalisation. ®

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