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CEOs optimistic globally

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – Business managers worldwide have revived their confidence for future growth from the gloomy prospects of a year ago, according to the 13th Annual Global CEO Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The study indicates that many of the business leaders expect growth from the faster growing emerging markets.

"As the effects of the Global economic meltdown recede, the CEOs are more upbeat about their prospects," said Kuria Muchiru, Country Senior Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers Kenya.

"CEO confidence is still tempered by the slow pace of recovery and the impact of often drastic cost-cutting and other steps taken to survive the downturn. However, emerging economies are clearly recovering at a faster pace than those that are more developed.

Companies with the best prospects for early recovery are those who managed through the recession while keeping an eye to the recovery ahead,” he explained.

Overall, more than 90 percent of CEOs expressed confidence in growth over the next three years. Those results, coming at the start of a new decade, were about on par with confidence levels of CEOs in PwC’s 2000 survey.

Topping the list of the potential threats to the projected business growth are energy costs and availability of key skills closely followed by inadequate infrastructure.

This rising confidence has translated into a planned boost in recruitment, with nearly 40 percent of CEOs expecting to increase their headcount this year, contrasting with 25 percent who plan job cuts over the next year. This figure is down from nearly half who decreased headcount in the past 12 months.

Mr Kuria said: “The people agenda is no compromise regardless of the location. Globally business leaders are telling us they project heavy investment on managing people through change and staff morale and employee engagement programmes. An organisation cannot reshape its strategy with a focus on growth without investment in people.”

CEOs are setting out restructuring activities to navigate the projected growth, with key focus on continuing to implement cost reduction initiatives and entering into new strategic alliances and joint ventures over the next 12 months.

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“In some fast-growing economies the turnaround is well under way, but some CEOs in the countries hardest hit by the crisis see its effects remaining through 2010 and beyond,” he said. “The timing of the recovery will vary depending on the geography and industry. CEOs must now shift their mindset to making strategic decisions about investing in growth in order to gain competitive advantage."

The survey further found that Protracted global recession remains the biggest overall concern of CEOs around the world (65percent), followed closely by fear of over-regulation (60 percent).

Other high-ranking potential business threats included instability in capital markets, and exchange rate volatility. At the other end of the spectrum, concerns over terrorism and infrastructure were cited by less than a third of CEOs globally as impediments to growth.

The full survey report can be downloaded here.

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