1. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China | Top 10 BRIC companies

Largest of the 'big four' state-run banks.

Founded in 1984, ICBC has the largest market capitalisation of any bank in the world. It is the largest of China's 'Big Four' banks (three of which feature in this list) and came fifth in this year's Forbes 2000 list of the world's top companies, up from twelfth in 2009.

China's biggest lender is looking abroad to build on its domestic success and already has offices in the US, Canada, Russia and the UK.

In 2006 Goldman Sachs spent $2.6 billion on a 5.75 per cent stake in ICBC, the largest sum the investment bank had ever invested. The two other major foreign names invested in the bank are German group Allianz and credit card company American Express, both of which hold small stakes.

The bank is notable for its extremely restrained executive remuneration. In 2008, for instance, chairman Jiang Jiangqing earned $260,000 - a very modest sum compared to his American and British counterparts.

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