General Mills Inc. ranked 17th among the world's 25 best U.S.-based, multinational workplaces in 2012, according to a study released Wednesday.

The study, the largest of its kind, looks at workplace excellence and culture. It's done by the Great Place to Work Institute, which also does employer rankings for Fortune magazine and other media.

General Mills was the only Minnesota firm to crack the 2012 multinational rankings.

"We are thrilled to get this recognition," said Jacqueline Williams-Roll, General Mills' vice president of human resources for international. "It's an exciting time of [global] growth for our company."

Golden Valley-based General Mills has been growing rapidly abroad in recent years, and international sales now comprise more than 25 percent of its total revenues.

In the past 18 months, the company paid $1.2 billion for a controlling stake in France-based Yoplait SA and it picked up Yoki Alimentos, a Brazilian foodmaker, in a $900 million deal.

As far as promoting workplace culture, "whether you are a leader in Brazil, Australia or China, the expectations are the same," Williams-Roll said.

The top five companies on the best global workplace list were SAS Institute, a North Carolina-based software firm; Google; NetApp, a Silicon Valley data storage company; Texas-based household goods maker Kimberly-Clark; and Microsoft.

To be eligible for the ranking, a company must have at least 5,000 worldwide employees, and at least 40 percent of its workforce must be outside the home country. General Mills has 39,000 employees, about half of whom live outside the United States.

Eligible companies also must have appeared on five individual country great-places-to-work lists. This year, General Mills made such lists in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Greece.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003