EUROPE: RANKING - EUROPE'S TOP 500 - DARK DAYS AT THE TOP.

EUROPE: RANKING - EUROPE'S TOP 500 - DARK DAYS AT THE TOP. - British Industry is in a distinctly favourable position via-a-vis its two principal rivals, according to the method of measuring company performance devised by Germany's Kiel University. In thi

by Nick Hasell and Peter Wilsher.

British Industry is in a distinctly favourable position via-a-vis its two principal rivals, according to the method of measuring company performance devised by Germany's Kiel University. In this year's list of the top European companies no fewer than 142 from the UK qualify for a place. But overall, the trends which emerge are not good, with the score of almost every organisation deteriorating in comparison with last year's rankings.

Britain slid into deep recession a good 12 months ahead of its Continental neighbours, but that relative disadvantage had little impact on this year's rankings of Europe's Top 500 companies (despite the fact that this mainly reflects 1992 performance). Of the 142 UK companies qualifying for a place in the full list - which is almost as many as France and Germany could muster between them - more than half succeeded in improving their overall rating. Of the rest, 67 registered some slippage, though there were only a handful of really dramatic falls, mainly in the building and construction sector - and just three remained precisely where they were before.

Even if banking and insurance are excluded, a hard-hit British contingent still impressively held its own among the 400 contenders that make up the purely industrial and commercial list. The 61 winners there neatly balanced the 61 losers, with one solitary non-mover, the automotive components group BBA, remaining unchanged at number 288.

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