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General Electric — World’s Largest Landlord

Famous for light-bulbs and jet engines, GE has quietly built one of the most profitable empires of office buildings, shopping centers, and apartment houses around the globe.

Last year the business, GE Commercial Finance Real Estate, earned more than $1 billion on its 7,500 properties, part of a portfolio valued at $29 billion. (This was seven times the profits of one of GE’s largest public rivals, developer Sam Zell’s Equity Office Properties Trust in Chicago, which has $25 billion in properties.)

GE has generated returns of more than 25% in each of the past 12 years, and their real estate business now accounts for 7% of GE’s bottom line.