By Clay Chandler

Clay is an author, editor and fellow at Hult International Business School where he follows technology, economics and global business. He is a former Asia editor at McKinsey & Company, and has held senior editorial roles at Fortune, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Follow him on Twitter @claychandler

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Can you match these companies with the nationality of their owners?

Globalization’s effects are often overstated, but one result has certainly been confusion about the national identities of some of the world’s most iconic brands.

Find out the original country behind the brands below, and which country they now call home.


Convenience stores are an American invention, and 7-Eleven was the industry pioneer. Its roots are in Dallas, Texas, where in 1927, an employee of Southland Ice Company began selling eggs, milk, and bread from the front of one of the company’s 16 icehouses. A director worked out that stores selling basic items like bread and milk could spare customers the need to make long trips to the market and, and in 1927 he launched a chain called Tote’m Stores which attracted customers by displaying giant Alaskan totem poles in front of each store.

In 1946, the Southland chain was rebranded 7-Eleven to convey the stores’ new hours of operation, a name that remained even after 1969, when the franchise shifted to a policy of staying open around the clock. The company expanded nationally throughout the 1970s, but ran into financial troubles in the late ‘80s and filed for bankruptcy in 1990. Enter its Japanese affiliate, retail giant Ito-Yokado, which took control of the company and proceeded to expand it into the world’s largest convenience store chain.


Founded in Gothenburg in 1927, for decades Volvo was considered a quintessentially Swedish brand. Its cars, like its founders, were sturdy and carefully engineered, with a reputation for being able to withstand cold temperatures and brutal collisions. Volvo’s line of Mack Trucks became the most iconic brand in the global trucking industry. But the business lost financial traction, and in 1999 it was sold to Ford Motor Company, which failed to improve its performance. In 2010, Ford sold Volvo to Geely Automobile of China.


Jaguar and Land Rover are among the United Kingdom’s most iconic brands. Jaguar, launched in the 1930s by Blackpool motorcycle manufacturer William Lyons, was acclaimed for its elegant designs and considered the epitome of British luxury. But the company has had foreign owners since 1989, when it was acquired by Ford Motor Company, which failed to revive it despite investing more than $10 billion.

Land Rovers, rugged and durable sport utility cars, were introduced by British Leyland in 1970. The Defender, the most famous of the Land Rover models, has been called more British than the Beatles and remains the favorite vehicle of Queen Elizabeth II.

India’s Tata Motors purchased Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford Motor in 2008 for $2.3 billion. Vehicles made by both companies are now especially popular in mainland China.


The first Nissan passenger cars, then called Datsuns, rolled off assembly lines in Yokohama in 1935. The company focused on production of engines for military aircraft and motor torpedo boats during the Second World War, but after Japan’s surrender it returned to making trucks and cars, and emerged alongside Toyota as one of Japan’s most formidable manufacturers.

However, Nissan took on far too much debt and expanded recklessly during the go-go years of Japan’s speculative stock boom in the 1990s. Teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, Nissan was rescued in 1999 by France’s Renault SA. Nissan went on to become one the most successful industrial turnarounds in history under the leadership of CEO Carlos Ghosn, a French national born and raised in Brazil.


Jim Beam, one of the world’s best-selling bourbons, traces its origins back to the Bohm family of Germany, who emigrated to Kentucky in the late 18th century. Founder Jacob Beam, a farmer and grain mill operator, sold his first barrels of corn whiskey in 1795, laying the foundations of a business that outlasted the hardships of Prohibition and remained under Beam family ownership for seven generations.

From its base in Frankfort, Kentucky, the company pushed into global markets after the Second World War, becoming one of the most recognized American brands in the world. The company was purchased in 2014 by Beam Suntory, a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings of Osaka in Japan.


“For millions, Budweiser is synonymous with American beer.” So said the New York Times in a 2008 article reporting that Anheuser-Busch, founded in St. Louis, Missouri in 1852, the largest brewing company in the United States and purveyor of iconic brands including Bud and Bud Light, was selling itself to Belgian brewer InBev for $52 billion.


Since being established by London journalist and entrepreneur Harry Marks in 1884, the distinctive pink pages of the Financial Times have been a symbol of British capitalism. In July 2015, the FT, venerable custodian of Britain’s benchmark equities index, was sold by Pearson, its British parent, to Japan’s Nikkei Inc. for $1.3 billion.


The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was created in the 1890s by combining elegant hotels built by William Waldorf Astor and John Jacob Astor, scions of one of New York’s richest families. The original hotel was demolished in 1929 to make room for the Empire State Building, but reopened in 1931 on its current location in Park Avenue. The new hotel, a sumptuous Art Deco palace, immediately established itself as one of the world’s most prestigious hotels.

The Waldorf retained its historic grandeur after its purchase by millionaire Conrad Hilton in 1949, hosting dignitaries, politicians and world-famous celebrities. For decades, the Waldorf served as the New York residence of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and every U.S. president since Herbert Hoover has slept in the Waldorf’s magnificent presidential suite.

In 2014, the Hilton Hotels Corporation sold the Waldorf to the Anbang Insurance Group of China for $1.95 billion, making it the most expensive hotel ever sold. The acquisition prompted President Obama to announce months later that he intends to break with tradition: on future visits to New York, he will abandon the Waldorf and stay instead at the Lotte New York Palace, whose owners are Korean.