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Toyota plummets down Forbes list

TOKYO, Apr 22 – Toyota Motor, beset by huge safety recalls and a host of lawsuits over deaths linked to its cars, tumbled from third to 360th on the annual Forbes list of the world\’s leading companies.

The car maker trailed far behind rivals Ford, Honda, and Hyundai in the 2010 listing, which ranks 2,000 of the world\’s best corporate performers based on an equal weighting of sales, profits, assets and market value.

Toyota ranked third last year and 10th five years ago.

US car makers General Motors and Chrysler, which are currently turning around their businesses after filing for bankruptcy protection last year, were absent from the list.

Germany\’s Daimler was ranked 388th and Volkswagen dropped off the list due to the complexity surrounding its 2009 merger with Porsche.

Toyota, which dethroned General Motors as the world\’s biggest car maker in 2008, has recalled around 10 million vehicles worldwide due to accelerator and brake defects, which have been blamed for 58 deaths in the US.

In the latest blow, international ratings agency Moody\’s Thursday downgraded the beleaguered car maker because of uncertainty over "product quality" potentially hitting sales following the mass recalls.

Earlier this week the company agreed to pay a 16.4-million-dollar fine, the largest for a car maker in the United States, for hiding for at least four months accelerator pedal defects blamed in the US deaths.

Toyota is facing at least 97 US lawsuits seeking damages for injury or death linked to sudden acceleration and 138 class action lawsuits from American customers suing to recoup losses in the resale value of Toyota vehicles.

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Despite the world financial crisis, banks still dominated the list with 308 lenders in the lineup, mainly thanks to their assets, said Forbes Magazine which compiles the list.

US investment giant JP Morgan Chase topped the list, removing General Electric from the number one spot.

Forbes said its top 2,000 companies account for 30 trillion dollars in revenue, 1.4 trillion dollars in profits, 124 trillion dollars in assets and 31 trillion dollars in market value, up 61 percent from the previous year.

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