30.01.2023 • National champions?

CAC40: the true annual report, 2022 edition

Super-profits, GHG emissions, taxation, dividends and share buybacks, jobs, pay, discrimination, dealings with political authorities... The 2022 edition of our “true annual report” of CAC40 corporations is a thorough, data-based exploration of major French corporations and their role and impact both in France and globally.

Published on 30 January 2023

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Radiographie des grandes entreprises françaises et de leur rôle dans la France et le monde d’aujourd’hui

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The 2022 edition of “CAC40 : le véritable bilan annuel” (full French version here) offers a compilation and an analysis of publicly available data on the financial, fiscal, ecological, social and political behaviour of French corporate heavyweights.

This edition also includes a brand new analysis of the composition of the boards of directors of CAC40 companies. It sheds light on the close personal connections at the top of virtually every large French corporation, which explains their political cohesion and solidarity in the face of government and critics, as well as their alignment on the same fundamental strategic choices in terms of dividends and share buybacks, CEO pay, taxation or climate action.

Ultimately, this 2022 edition of our true annual report of CAC40 companies illustrates the increasingly complicated and conflictual relationship between CAC40 groups and the rest of the French economy, not to speak of French society in general.

Key take-aways

* CAC40 companies have broken their historical record in profits in 2021 (€157bn) and in the first half of 2022 (€72.8bn), thanks to an increase in sales, but above all in profitability.

* CAC40 companies also broke their historical record of dividend payments on 2021 profits (€57.5bn) as well as their historical record of share buybacks in 2021 (€22.4bn). The main beneficiaries were, as usual, Bernard Arnault’s holding company (€2.4bn in dividends on 2021 profits) and BlackRock (over €2 billion). Record-breaking share buybacks and dividends are set to continue in 2022.

* The actual corporate tax rate paid by CAC40 companies fell significantly between 2020 and 2021, from 37.6% to 25.4% of their profit before tax. An average of 14.3% of subsidiaries of CAC40 companies are located in countries considered as tax or legal havens. Some of the most profitable CAC40 groups (ArcelorMittal, Stellantis, ST Micro) are now headquartered in countries known for their favorable tax policies: Luxembourg, Netherlands and Switzerland.

* With an average compensation of €6.6 million in 2021, CAC40 CEOs have enjoyed a 52% raise over their 2020 pay and a 26% raise over their 2019 pay. A small but growing number of CAC40 CEO pay packages now exceed 10 million euros.

* As wages do not increase in the same proportions, CAC40 corporations are becoming more and more inegalitarian. The ratio between average CEO compensation and average expenses per employee was 108 in 2018, 117 in 2019, 115 in 2020. In 2021, it was 139. The most unequal CAC40 company is Teleperformance, where this ratio is 1706.

* The GHG emissions declared by CAC40 companies have slightly increased in 2021 compared to 2020, after a significant drop between 2019 and 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. This drop mostly reflected the importance of GHG emissions from the aviation sector. Several of the largest polluters of the CAC40 index, however, have continued to see their emissions increase even through Covid. Many CAC40 groups are still not transparent about their real GHG emissions, particularly in the banking sector.


Independent information on corporate power is critical, but is has a cost.


* CAC40 companies had around 5 million direct employees at the end of 2021, a slight increase driven by the explosion in the workforce of highly internationalised groups specialized in outsourced services such as Teleperformance and Capgemini. Most historical pillars of the CAC40 index continue to reduce their workforce, particularly in France: Carrefour, Sanofi, Orange, Renault, BNP Paribas, Société Générale, etc.

* The share of women executives is progressing very slowly. At the beginning of 2022, there were 3 women out of 68 CAC40 CEOs or chairmen of the board. Today, there are 5. Women now represent a quarter of executive committee members, twice as much as in 2018 - but disproportionately responsible for gender-stereotyped issues such as communication, HR or CSR.

* Whether directly or indirectly, the French state is present in the capital of nearly half of CAC40 companies, but the influence of government shareholding is minimal at best on any metric.

* With a few exceptions (newcomers Teleperformance and Eurofins), most CAC40 groups are closely interconnected through their administrators and top executives. There are 19 such links for Danone and 18 for TotalEnergies and Orange.

* The top three companies in the CAC40 index in terms of capitalisation are now linked to the luxury sector: LVMH, L’Oréal and Hermès. They are followed by TotalEnergies and Sanofi. These 5 groups represent almost half of the capitalisation of CAC40 as a whole.

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