The companies include some 466 of the Stoxx Europe 600 index, and include UK companies such as Vodafone, BP and AstraZeneca. Nestle tops the league table after amassing almost £20bn when it sold its majority stake in Alcon this August.
The benefits seem to be self contained, as the cash boost hasn’t translated to gains in the stock market. The Stoxx 600 advanced just 3.3% this year, on track for the smallest increase in 18 years. Meanwhile, it contrasts with the disastrous recession the national exchequers of Europe have had. Ireland and Greece received a bailout just six months apart, while there’s speculation that other countries in the EU could need a bailout next year. So while Europe’s biggest countries might have reason to feel some jubilance, for the rest of Europe the mood is more glum.