Global accounting giant
PricewaterhouseCoopers conducts an annual survey of 1000 CEOs in 25
countries to gauge the world’s most respected business leaders and
companies. The Financial Times did a special lift out on the
results on November 18 and this year’s results are great news for both
Rupert Murdoch and Richard Branson.

Branson may be pilloried by
the likes of Chris Corrigan but he has risen from 12 to 7 in the global
rankings, while Rupert’s efforts with Fox in the US is what the FT says
explains his rise from 38 to 13 in a year when News Corp’s weak share
price and dodgy corporate governance practices have been in the
limelight.

Microsoft and Bill Gates again took out the corporate
and individual top price with General Electric and Jack Welch coming in
second in both categories.

Rod Eddington is moving back to Melbourne after recently retiring as
British Airways CEO and he entered the charts at number 38, the second
highest ranked Australian citizen after former Coke CEO Douglas Daft,
who rose from 43 to 22.

The most puzzling entry was Brian
Gilbertson, whose performance at BHP Billiton saw him enter the charts
at 41. We emailed PwC pointing out that Gilbertson was sacked in
January 2003 and they replied that it should have said “former CEO.”

Surely
it should be Chip Goodyear, unless Gilbertson has been kicking goals in
life after BHP Billiton which doesn’t appear to be the case when you
Google him.

The highest ranking Pom was BP CEO John Browne whose
brilliantly timed acquisitions of Amoco and Arco in the late 1990s and
an early deal in Russia has seen it rise to be the second most valuable
global oil giant after Exxon-Mobil. BP is now producing annualised
operating profits of $30 billion, more than the combined profits of BHP
Billiton, Telstra, and the Big Four banks.

Sadly, Australia
hasn’t produced a global oil player to speak of, just as we’ve failed
to produce any company of note in IT, pharmaceuticals, shipping or
hotels. Still, at least we’re good at sport.