Fri, Jun 12, 2015 - Page 14 News List

CFOs in Asia bullish on growth outlook: survey

GOOD PROSPECTS:The survey showed that confidence levels are now at their highest since the survey began in 2012, although higher US interest rates were of concern

Staff writer, with CNA

Chief financial officers (CFOs) in the Asia-Pacific region, including Taiwan, are confident in their regional businesses, as measured by growth prospects, their ability to manage and mitigate risk and their appetite for investment, a recent survey shows.

The Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s 2015 CFO Outlook Asia survey released yesterday showed that 84 percent of the respondents said they expect revenues to rise this year, up from 76 percent in the same survey conducted last year.

CFOs are also more bullish on profits this year, with 73 percent of those surveyed forecasting growth this year, compared with 60 percent last year.

The CFOs’ expectations of growth in both revenue and profits places confidence at its highest level since the survey began in 2012, Merrill Lynch said in a statement.

The survey shows that financial market risk (54 percent versus 36 percent last year), particularly higher US interest rates and continued currency volatility, is the biggest risk facing corporations this year.

“CFOs in Asia Pacific are acutely aware of the risks in the market and have taken necessary steps to manage them better,” Merrill Lynch head of Asia-Pacific corporate banking and global corporate banking subsidiaries Steven Victorin said.

“Past financial crises have taught the region’s most successful CFOs valuable lessons in prudent financial and risk management. As a result, we find that corporations with substantial cash surpluses, closely hedged currency exposures and an actively mitigated interest rate strategy are more confident in dealing with market challenges and pursuing growth strategies,” he said.

“For CFOs in Asia Pacific, growth is the clear priority and we are seeing significant uptick of strategic dialogue around acquisitions, financing and holistic balance sheet management,” Victorin said.

Merrill Lynch’s 2015 CFO Outlook Asia report includes the views of 630 respondents at the CFO or CFO-equivalent level within finance departments.

Now in its fourth edition, the report offers insights into the strategies deployed by key financial decisionmakers across multiple industries and 12 economies in the region.

About 97 percent of the respondents come from corporations with at least US$500 million annual turnover and represent a balanced mix of multinational corporations and large local companies, the bank said.

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