HBR ranks Steve Jobs as 'world's best CEO'; Mukesh Ambani is fifth

Steve Jobs Apple Inc chief executive officer Steve Jobs has taken the top spot in a list of the 50 best-performing chief executive officers in the world, released by Harvard Business Review on Monday. Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries Ltd, India's largest private company, is ranked at number five.

Number two on the list was Samsung chief executive Yun Jong-Yong, followed by Alexey B Miller of Russian energy company Gazprom, Cisco's John Chambers, and Ambani.

The report considered the chief executives of all publicly traded companies that had made Standard & Poor's Global 1200 or BRIC 40 lists since 1997. The publication looked at chief executives who took their jobs no earlier than January 1995 and no later than December 2007, gathering an initial list of nearly 2,000 top executives before winnowing the list based on shareholder returns and other criteria.

"We measured performance based on hard metrics - the objective, cold reality of shareholder returns and changes in market value," the authors said in their report.

As the publication noted, such luminaries as Oracle Corp's Larry Ellison, General Electric's Jack Welch, Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett and Microsoft Corp's Bill Gates didn't make the cut because they didn't fit the initial criteria. ''They all took the helm before 1995, though they probably would have done well if included,'' Harvard Business Review said.

Writers Morten T Hansen, Herminia Ibarra, and Urs Peyer said, ''The number 1 CEO on the list, Steve Jobs, delivered a whopping 3,188 per cent industry-adjusted return (34 per cent compounded annually) after he rejoined Apple as CEO in 1997, when the company was in dire shape. From that time until the end of September 2009, Apple's market value increased by $150 billion.''

Interestingly if not surprisingly, a large number of Silicon Valley companies made the top 10. Apart from Jobs and Chambers, there were John C Martin of Gilead Sciences at No 6, Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com at No 7, Meg Whitman, former chief executive of eBay Inc at No 8, and Eric Schmidt of Google Inc at No 9. John Thompson of Symantec Corp clocked in at No 19.