DAVOS, Switzerland — The confidence of global business leaders about growth prospects for their companies in the next 12 months has returned to pre-recession levels, a survey of 1,200 chief executive officers from 69 nations conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers International found.

 

The upbeat study was released here Tuesday on the eve of the annual World Economic Forum summit.

 

“For the next 12 months, 48 percent of the ceo’s are very confident of their prospects versus 31 percent a year ago,” Pricewaterhouse chairman Dennis Nally told reporters.

 

Nally said 39 percent of ceo’s see China as the top nation for growth in 2011, followed by the U.S., Brazil and India. He said economic volatility was seen as the biggest downside risk in the survey.

 

The poll, taken during the last quarter of 2010, found that ceo’s “are feeling better, thinking less about survival and more about how they are going to thrive in this shifting environment.”

 

The survey found that ceo’s are realizing they need to secure growth in a multispeed recovery, and noted executives “are already shifting strategies in areas like talent and innovation.”

 

Nally said confidence was up “around the world, but with big variations”  and pointed out that emerging regions such as Asia were the most confident, and Western Europe the least.

 

The best job prospect will be in emerging nations, Nally said, adding that 51 percent of ceo’s indicated they plan to add jobs this year, up from 39 percent a year earlier, and only 16 percent indicated they plan to cut jobs, down from 25 percent last year. Companies in India, China and Brazil lead in adding jobs, he said.

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