Conglomerate (company)

A conglomerate is a combination of multiple business entities operating in entirely different industries under one corporate group, usually involving a parent company and many subsidiaries. Often, a conglomerate is a multi-industry company. Conglomerates are often large and multinational.

Conglomerates were popular in the 1960s due to a combination of low interest rates and a repeating bear-bull market, which allowed the conglomerates to buy companies in leveraged buyouts, sometimes at temporarily deflated values. Famous examples from the 1960s include Ling-Temco-Vought,[8] ITT Corporation,[8] Litton Industries,[8] Textron,[8] Teledyne.[8] Because of low interest on the loans, the overall return on investment of the conglomerate appeared to grow. Also, the conglomerate had a better ability to borrow in the money market, or capital market, than the smaller firm at their community bank.

For many years this was enough to make the company's stock price rise, as companies were often valued largely on their return on investment. The aggressive nature of the conglomerators themselves was enough to make many investors, who saw a "powerful" and seemingly unstoppable force in business, buy their stock. High stock prices allowed them to raise more loans, based on the value of their stock, and thereby buy even more companies. This led to a chain reaction, which allowed them to grow very rapidly.

However, all of this growth was somewhat illusory and when interest rates rose to offset inflation, conglomerate profits fell. Investors noticed that the companies inside the conglomerate were growing no faster than before they were purchased, whereas the rationale for buying a company was that "synergies" would provide efficiency. By the late 1960s they were shunned by the market, and a major sell-off of their shares ensued. To keep the companies going, many conglomerates were forced to shed the industries they had recently purchased, and by the mid-1970s most had been reduced to shells.[9] The conglomerate fad was subsequently replaced by newer ideas like focusing on a company's core competency.

In other cases, conglomerates are formed for genuine interests of diversification rather than manipulation of paper return on investment. Companies with this orientation would only make acquisitions or start new branches in other sectors when they believed this would increase profitability or stability by sharing risks. Flush with cash during the 1980s, General Electric also moved into financing and financial services, which in 2005 accounted for about 45% of the company's net earnings. GE formerly owned a minority interest in NBCUniversal, which owns the NBC television network and several other cable networks. In some ways GE is the opposite of the "typical" 1960s conglomerate in that the company was not highly leveraged, and when interest rates went up they were able to turn this to their advantage. It was often less expensive to lease from GE than buy new equipment using loans. United Technologies has also proven to be a successful conglomerate.

With the spread of mutual funds (especially index funds since 1976), investors could more easily obtain diversification by owning a small slice of many companies in a fund rather than owning shares in a conglomerate. Another example of a successful conglomerate is Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company which used surplus capital from its insurance subsidiaries to invest in a variety of manufacturing and service businesses.

Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie spiegelretourschip Amsterdam replica
Replica of an East Indiaman of the Dutch East India Company/United East India Company (VOC). The VOC was a government-backed military-commercial enterprise (or a transcontinental company-state)[1] and an early pioneering model of the global supply chain in early modern period.[2] It was also in fact a multinational proto-conglomerate company — diversifying into various commercial and industrial activities such as international trade, shipbuilding, spice production and trade,[2] sugarcane industry,[3][4] wine industry[5][6][7] — rather than a pure trading company or shipping company.


The end of the First World War caused a brief economic crisis in Weimar Germany, permitting entrepreneurs to buy businesses at rock-bottom prices. The most successful, Hugo Stinnes, established the most powerful private economic conglomerate in 1920s Europe – Stinnes Enterprises – which embraced sectors as diverse as manufacturing, mining, shipbuilding, hotels, newspapers, and other enterprises.

The best known British conglomerate was Hanson plc. It followed a rather different timescale than the U.S. examples mentioned above, as it was founded in 1964 and ceased to be a conglomerate when it split itself into four separate listed companies between 1995 and 1997.

In Hong Kong, some of the well-known conglomerates include Jardine Matheson (AD1824), Swire Group (AD1816), (British companies, one Scottish one English; companies that have a history of over 150 years and have business interests that span across four continents with a focus in Asia.) C K Hutchison Whampoa, Sino Group, (both Asian-owned companies specialize business such as real estate and hospitality with a focus in Asia.)

In Japan, a different model of conglomerate, the keiretsu, evolved. Whereas the Western model of conglomerate consists of a single corporation with multiple subsidiaries controlled by that corporation, the companies in a keiretsu are linked by interlocking shareholdings and a central role of a bank. Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo are some of Japan's best known keiretsu, reaching from automobile manufacturing to the production of electronics such as televisions. While not a keiretsu, Sony is an example of a modern Japanese conglomerate with operations in consumer electronics, video games, the music industry, television and film production and distribution, financial services, and telecommunications.

In China, many of the country's conglomerates are state-owned enterprises, but there is a substantial number of private conglomerates. Notable conglomerates include BYD, CIMC, China Merchants Bank, Huawei, JXD, Ping An Insurance, TCL Corporation, Tencent, TP-Link, ZTE, Legend Holdings, Dalian Wanda Group, China Poly Group, Beijing Enterprises, and Fosun International. Fosun is currently China's largest civilian-run conglomerate by revenue.[10]

In South Korea, the chaebol are a type of conglomerate owned and operated by a family. A chaebol is also inheritable, as most of current presidents of chaebols succeeded their fathers or grandfathers. Some of the largest and most well-known Korean chaebols are Samsung, LG, Hyundai Kia and SK.

The era of Licence Raj (1947–1990) in India created some of Asia's largest conglomerates, such as the Tata Group, Kirloskar Group, Larsen & Toubro, Mahindra Group, Sahara India, ITC Limited, Essar Group, Reliance ADA Group, Reliance Industries, Aditya Birla Group and the Bharti Enterprises.

In Brazil the most important conglomerates are J&F Investimentos, Odebrecht, Itaúsa, Camargo Corrêa, Votorantim Group, Andrade Gutierrez, and Queiroz Galvão.

In New Zealand, Fletcher Challenge was formed in 1981 from the merger of Fletcher Holdings, Challenge Corporation, and Tasman Pulp & Paper, in an attempt to create a New Zealand-based multi-national company. At the time, the newly merged company dealt in construction, building supplies, pulp and paper mills, forestry, and oil & gas. Following a series of bungled investments, the company demerged in the early 2000s to concentrate on building and construction.

In the Philippines, the largest conglomerate of the country is the Ayala Corporation which focuses on malls, bank, real estate development, and telecommunications. The other big conglomerates in the Philippines included JG Summit Holdings, Lopez Group of Companies, SM Investments Corporation, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation and San Miguel Corporation.

In United States, some of the examples are The Walt Disney Company, WarnerMedia (see below).

In Canada, one of the examples is Hudson's Bay Company.

Advantages and disadvantages of conglomerates


  • Diversification results in a reduction of investment risk. A downturn suffered by one subsidiary, for instance, can be counterbalanced by stability, or even expansion, in another division. For example, if Berkshire Hathaway's construction materials business has a good year, the profit might be offset by a bad year in its insurance business. This advantage is enhanced by the fact that the business cycle affects industries in different ways. Financial Conglomerates have very different compliance requirements from insurance or reinsurance solo entities or groups. There are very important opportunities that can be exploited, to increase shareholder value.
  • A conglomerate creates an internal capital market if the external one is not developed enough. Through the internal market, different parts of conglomerate allocate capital more effectively.
  • A conglomerate can show earnings growth, by acquiring companies whose shares are more discounted than its own. In fact, Teledyne, GE, and Berkshire Hathaway have delivered high earnings growth for a time.[11]


  • The extra layers of management increase costs.[12]
  • Accounting disclosure is less useful information, many numbers are disclosed grouped, rather than separately for each business. The complexity of a conglomerate's accounts make them harder for managers, investors and regulators to analyze, and makes it easier for management to hide issues.
  • Conglomerates can trade at a discount to the overall individual value of their businesses because investors can achieve diversification on their own simply by purchasing multiple stocks. The whole is often worth less than the sum of its parts.
  • Culture clashes can destroy value.[13][14]
  • Inertia prevents development of innovation.[15]
  • Lack of focus, and inability to manage unrelated businesses equally well.[16]
  • Brand dilution where the brand loses its brand associations with a market segment, product area, or quality, price or cachet.
  • Conglomerates more easily run the risk of being too big to fail.

Some cite the decreased cost of conglomerate stock (a phenomenon known as conglomerate discount) as evidential of these disadvantages, while other traders believe this tendency to be a market inefficiency, which undervalues the true strength of these stocks.[17]

Media conglomerates

In her 1999 book No Logo, Naomi Klein provides several examples of mergers and acquisitions between media companies designed to create conglomerates for the purposes of creating synergy between them:

  • Time Warner included several tenuously linked businesses during the 1990s and 2000s, including Internet access, content, film, cable systems and television. Their diverse portfolio of assets allowed for cross-promotion and economies of scale. However, the company has sold or spun off many of these businesses – including Warner Music Group, Warner Books, AOL, Time Warner Cable, and Time Inc. – since 2004.
  • Clear Channel Communications, a public company, at one point owned a variety of TV and radio stations and billboard operations, together with a large number of concert venues across the U.S. and a diverse portfolio of assets in the UK and other countries around the world. The concentration of bargaining power in this one entity allowed it to gain better deals for all of its business units. For example, the promise of playlisting (allegedly, sometimes, coupled with the threat of blacklisting) on its radio stations was used to secure better deals from artists performing in events organized by the entertainment division. These policies have been attacked as unfair and even monopolistic, but are a clear advantage of the conglomerate strategy. On December 21, 2005, Clear Channel completed the divestiture of Live Nation, and in 2007 the company divested their television stations to other firms, some which Clear Channel holds a small interest in. Live Nation owns the events and concert venues previously owned by Clear Channel Communications.
  • Impact of conglomerates on the media: The five major media conglomerates in the United States are The Walt Disney Company, Comcast, Viacom, WarnerMedia and CBS Broadcasting Inc. (CBS). The Walt Disney Company is linked with the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), creating the largest media corporation, with revenue equal roughly thirty six billion dollars. Since Walt Disney owns ABC, it controls its news and programming. Walt Disney also acquired most of Fox, for over $70 billion. When General Electric owned NBC, it did not allow negative reporting against General Electric on air (NBCUniversal is now owned by Comcast). Viacom’s chief executive, Sumner Redstone, considers himself a “liberal democrat” and most of Viacom's programming has a liberal perspective.[18]
  • Media conglomerate impact on journalism: It leads to opinionated journalism versus traditional journalism. Opinionated journalism is a journalist adding his or her ideologies on a matter on top of reporting it to the public. The coverage that conglomerates have of issues, especially political, is not necessarily objective, and fails to report both sides of an issue, if not taking a neutral stance.[19] This is known as media bias. Media bias is ”the intentional or unintentional slanting of news reporting toward one side due political views or cultural beliefs of journalists, producers or owners of a media outlet.[18]

Internet conglomerates

Although a relatively new development, Internet conglomerates, such as Alphabet, Google's parent company[20] belong to the modern media conglomerate group and play a major role within various industries, such as brand management. In most cases Internet conglomerates consist of corporations who own several medium-sized online or hybrid online-offline projects. In many cases, newly joined corporations get higher returns on investment, access to business contacts, and better rates on loans from various banks.

Food conglomerates

Similar to other industries there are many companies that can be termed as conglomerates.

See also


  1. ^ Weststeijn, Arthur (2014), 'The VOC as a Company-State: Debating Seventeenth-Century Dutch Colonial Expansion,'. Itinerario 38(1): 13–34. doi:10.1017/S0165115314000035
  2. ^ a b Grenville, Stephen (3 November 2017). "The first global supply chain". Lowy Institute. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  3. ^ Shih, Chih-Ming; Yen, Szu-Yin (2009). The Transformation of the Sugar Industry and Land Use Policy in Taiwan, in Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering [8:1], pp. 41–48
  4. ^ Tseng, Hua-pi (2016). Sugar Cane and the Environment under Dutch Rule in Seventeenth Century Taiwan, in Environmental History in the Making, pp. 189–200
  5. ^ Estreicher, Stefan K. (2014), 'A Brief History of Wine in South Africa,'. European Review 22(3): pp. 504–537. doi:10.1017/S1062798714000301
  6. ^ Fourie, Johan; von Fintel, Dieter (2014), 'Settler Skills and Colonial Development: The Huguenot Wine-Makers in Eighteenth-Century Dutch South Africa,'. The Economic History Review 67(4): 932–963. doi:10.1111/1468-0289.12033
  7. ^ Williams, Gavin (2016), 'Slaves, Workers, and Wine: The ‘Dop System’ in the History of the Cape Wine Industry, 1658–1894,'. Journal of Southern African Studies 42(5): 893–909
  8. ^ a b c d e Holland 1989, pp. 57–64, 81–86.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-02-12. Retrieved 2010-08-25.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Hitachi, Ltd. - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Hitachi, Ltd.-Source-Reference for Business » Company History Index » Conglomerates
  10. ^ Tsui, Enid (24 June 2012). "China conglomerate Fosun to scour for deals with $1bn fund". Financial Times.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-04-13. Retrieved 2009-05-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Conglomerates: Cash Cows or Corporate Chaos?
  12. ^ Dearbail Jordan and Robin Pagnamenta (September 25, 2007). "BP to strip out four layers of management". The Times. Archived from the original on June 12, 2011.
  13. ^ "Culture clash: The risks of mergers". BBC News. 17 January 2000. Archived from the original on 2 June 2009.
  14. ^ Michelle C. Bligh (2006). "Surviving Post-merger 'Culture Clash': Can Cultural Leadership Lessen the Casualties?". Leadership. 2 (4): 395–426. doi:10.1177/1742715006068937. Archived from the original on 2009-05-31.
  15. ^ "Innovation and Inertia". Stanford University's Entrepreneurship Center. Archived from the original on 2009-08-01.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2009-05-28.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Definition of Conglomerate
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-03-30. Retrieved 2015-03-31.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Conglomerate discount
  18. ^ a b "Do Media Conglomerates Influence Media Bias? (with images, tweets) · asiarenee91". Storify. Archived from the original on 2016-12-02. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  19. ^ "Media Conglomerates And It's Impact on Journalism | Comm455/History of Journalism". Archived from the original on 2016-12-02. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
  20. ^ "G is for Google". Archived from the original on 9 April 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2018.


  • Holland, Max (1989), When the Machine Stopped: A Cautionary Tale from Industrial America, Boston: Harvard Business School Press, ISBN 978-0-87584-208-0, OCLC 246343673.
  • McDonald, Paul and Wasko, Janet (2010), The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry, Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-4051-3388-3

External links

  • "Conglomerate". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 17 November 2007.
  • Conglomerate Monkeyshines, An example of how conglomerates were used in the 1960s to manufacture earnings growth
Arif Habib Group

Arif Habib Group is a business conglomerate company based in Karachi, Pakistan. It was founded by Pakistani businessman Arif Habib.The group consists of 13 companies spanning the real estate, financial services, energy, cement, steel and fertiliser production sectors. As of 2012, it had over 11,000 employees and an annual revenue of Rs. 100 billion.

Army Welfare Trust

Army Welfare Trust, also known as Askari Group of Companies, is a Pakistani conglomerate company run by Pakistan Army. It is based in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The business is run by the Pakistan Army along with Fauji Foundation.

Attock Petroleum Limited

Attock Petroleum Limited is Pakistani oil marketing company based in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. It started its operations in 1998 and is third largest oil marketing company in Pakistan.It is part of Pakistani conglomerate company Attock Group.It has filling stations in Khyber Pukhtunkwa, Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan, Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh. It also provides CNG at selected stations. Other facilities include tire shop, mosques, and resting areas.The company also opened two filling stations in Jalalabad, making it the first oil marketing company in Afghanistan.

Bonifacio Transport Corporation

Bonifacio Transport Corp., or more commonly known as BGC Bus or formerly The Fort Bus, is an intercity bus company in Metro Manila, Philippines operated under Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation (FBDC), an affiliate company under Ayala Corporation, one of the largest conglomerate company established during the Spanish era. It plies routes from EDSA in Makati to Bonifacio Global City in Taguig via McKinley Road.

This bus company was regarded as the first non-EDSA Metro Manila bus that traverses from one business district to another.


Conglomerate or conglomeration may refer to:

Conglomerate (company)

Conglomerate (geology)

Conglomerate (mathematics)In popular culture:

The Conglomerate (American group), a production crew and musical group founded by Busta Rhymes

Conglomerate (record label), a hip hop label founded by Busta Rhymes

The Conglomerate (Australian group), a jazz quartet

The Conglomerate (comics), a superhero team in the DC Comics universe

Demirören Group

Demirören Group is a Turkish conglomerate company. Its properties include Milangaz (a liquefied petroleum gas distributor with 9% of the Turkish market), the Demirören İstiklal shopping mall in Beyoğlu, as well as several newspapers, television and radio stations.

Demirören acquired the newspapers Milliyet and Vatan in May 2011. In 2018 the holding bought the newspaper Hürriyet, the TV station Kanal D and all other media properties of Doğan Group.Milangaz sponsored the Beşiktaş men's basketball team in 2011-12.

Essel Group

Essel Group is an Indian conglomerate company presently headed by Dr. Subhash Chandra, based in Mumbai, Maharashtra, and established in 1926.

Grupo Carso

Grupo Carso or Grupo Sanborns SAB is a Mexican global conglomerate company owned by Carlos Slim. It was formed in 1990 after the merger of Corporación Industrial Carso and Grupo Inbursa. The name Carso stands for Carlos Slim and Soumaya Domit de Slim, his late wife.

In May 2014, the conglomerate had a stock market capitalisation of over $12 billion US dollars.In 1996 Carso Global Telecom (which includes Telmex, Telcel and América Móvil) separated itself from Grupo Carso.

House of Habib

The House of Habib is a Pakistani conglomerate company which is based in Karachi, Pakistan. The group was founded by Habib Esmail in 1841.

It is a prominent Khoja business family in Pakistan.

ITC Limited

ITC Limited is an Indian multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Kolkata, West Bengal.Established in 1910 as the 'Imperial Tobacco Company of India Limited', the company was renamed as the 'India Tobacco Company Limited' in 1970 and later to 'I.T.C. Limited' in 1974. The dots in the name were removed in September 2001 for the company to be renamed as 'ITC Limited' where 'ITC' would no longer be an acronym. The company completed 100 years in 2010 and as of 2012-13, had an annual turnover of US$8.31 billion and a market capitalization of US$50 billion. It employs over 30,000 people at more than 60 locations across India and is part of Forbes 2000 list.

Jindal Group

The O.P. Jindal Group is an Indian conglomerate company founded by O.P. Jindal in 1969. The current CEO is Naveen Jindal, the youngest son of the late O P Jindal.

Massive Dynamic

Massive Dynamic is a fictional multinational conglomerate company from the TV series Fringe that develops the advancement of weapons testing, robotics, medical equipment, aeronautics, genetics, pharmaceuticals, telecommunication, energy, transportation, and entertainment technology. Fictionally, the headquarters of Massive Dynamic is located at 655 18th Street, New York ("Olivia"). However, in reality, the exterior of the new 7 World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan is used as its headquarters. For the pilot episode, interior scenes of Massive Dynamic were filmed in the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal entrance of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario. In the episode "Brown Betty", Massive Dynamic's headquarters are located in the South Tower of the original World Trade Center.

Their ongoing slogan was: "What do we do? What don't we do!"


Metcash (ASX: MTS) is an Australian conglomerate company distributing and marketing groceries, fresh produce, alcoholic beverages, hardware, and other consumer goods. Notable retailers the company owns include IGA, Mitre 10 and Home Timber & Hardware.

Nishat Group

Nishat Group (Urdu: نِشاط‬‎‎) is a Pakistani multinational conglomerate company which was founded by Pakistani business magnate Mian Muhammad Mansha. It is based in Lahore, Pakistan.

The company is listed on all three stock exchanges of Pakistan.


SOMED (French: Société Maroco-Emiratie de Développement) is a conglomerate company based in Morocco. Its active in a range of sectors such as mining, construction material dealership, tourism, real estate development, food processing and Car dealership. Its capital is composed of Mohammed VI's holding company SNI, Emirati private funds and the Moroccan state.

SUN Group

SUN Group is an Indian media conglomerate company based in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. It was founded by Kalanithi Maran in 1992.


AFK Sistema PAO is a large Russian conglomerate company, headed by Vladimir Yevtushenkov. In March 2006, Yevtushenkov controlled 62% of the shares in Sistema.Sistema has its headquarters in Moscow. The company's Global Depository Receipts (GDRs) are traded on the London Stock Exchange (ticker symbol LSE: SSA).

Sunway Group

Sunway Berhad (Chinese: 双威集团) (MYX: 5211) or Sunway Group is a Malaysian conglomerate company. It was formed following a merger between Sunway City Berhad (SunCity) and Sunway Holdings Berhad on 23 August 2011.Sunway Holdings Incorporated Berhad commenced operations in 1986, mainly to develop the Bandar Sunway township in Petaling Jaya. It was listed on Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad on 16 February 1984. Sunway City Berhad on the other hand, was incorporated in 1982 and engages in the investment and development of residential, commercial, retail, leisure, and healthcare properties primarily in Asia and Australia.

Following the success of the Sunway City township, the Group diversified into property investment, leisure and entertainment, hospitality and healthcare. Today Sunway maintains property development and construction as its two core businesses and key contributors to profitability.

Yousuf Dewan Companies

The Yousuf Dewan Companies (YDC) is a conglomerate company based in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. It is currently owned by the former Sindh Finance Minister Dewan Mohammad Yousuf Farooqui.

Business organizations
Corporate groups
Business network
Oppositional groups
See also

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