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published SEPTEMBER 02, 2010, 14:00
Eversheds report says global businesses favour investment over cost cutting to aid recovery

One in four senior executives across the globe is less confident now than at the beginning of the year, according to an international study of economic recovery published today [Thursday 2nd September]. However, the mood varies greatly from country to country. Pessimism is most pronounced in the USA, where confidence levels have dropped since the beginning of the year, while optimism in the East continues to soar.

The research, conducted by international law firm Eversheds, reveals that businesses in the USA have taken the least proactive approach to combating the challenging economic climate. Conversely, businesses in China and Russia have led the charge in trying to drive demand, by searching for new market opportunities, while cost cutting measures have been most prevalent in the UK.
China is also leading the way in international expansion, with almost three quarters of those surveyed looking to expand into an average of more than two foreign markets in the next 12 months, while just 18% of companies in the USA are seeking out international opportunities.
Eversheds’ Tools for Recovery report, which captures the views of 1000 senior business figures across China, the USA, Europe and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), also reveals signs of a revival in global mergers and acquisitions activity. One in five businesses (22%) said they would be on the acquisition trail in the year ahead, up from 13% in the last 18 months. Again, Russia is leading the way with 42% of businesses looking at acquisitions in the next 12 months.
Looking ahead, the research shows that businesses will continue to drive demand and will also have a stronger appetite to invest in three key areas – staffing levels, marketing activity and research and development projects.
This follows some tough decisions during the last 18 months, with 46% of businesses cutting discretionary spending, 38% freezing or reducing pay and 34% making redundancies. Redundancies during this period have been most prolific in the UK, France, Spain and the UAE.
Stephen Sorrell, partner at Eversheds, said: “While economists have signalled the official ending of the recession, there is little doubt that challenging economic conditions persist. Despite the downturn of the last few years, the majority of companies have survived and some have even thrived. The question is how? Through this research, we wanted to identify the steps that businesses across the globe have taken to stay ahead and the plans they have in place to recover and grow.
“The findings show a very mixed picture in terms of confidence levels and the way in which businesses have tackled the challenging economic climate. The apparent inertia in the USA is quite surprising, while there are encouraging signs of a general trend towards reducing cost-cutting measures in the year ahead and a greater desire to invest and focus on growth.
“Our research also noted some differences across the sectors. It’s really encouraging to see that the manufacturing industry is among the most optimistic, while the construction sector, which was arguably the hardest hit by the global recession, has a healthy level of optimism in line with the global average – perhaps a sign that they have turned the corner.”
Eversheds is inviting businesses to view the full report and share their opinions and experiences by logging on on to www.eversheds.com/toolsforrecovery







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