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Thu, Jan 25, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Survey reveals company chiefs are upbeat

OPTIMISM A survey released hours before the opening of the World Economic Forum in Davos showed 92 percent of chief executives were confident about growth

AFP , DAVOS, SWITZERLAND

Two police officers stand in front of the main meeting venue of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland,yesterday. The WEF officially opened yesterday and will see more than 2,400 participants from 90 countries spend five days in the mountain resort debating the world's challenges.

PHOTO: AP

Company chiefs from around the world are brimming with confidence about their business prospects over the coming year but divided about the impact of climate change, a survey said yesterday.

Ninety-two percent of 1,100 chief executives in 50 countries were confident about their company's revenue growth this year, according to the annual survey by auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The survey released hours before the opening of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting of global business leaders and politicians indicated that confidence levels were undiminished over the longer term.

Top-rated growth areas were rapidly emerging economies, like Brazil, Russia, India and China, and other developing countries.

Some 40 percent identified climate change as a potential obstacle to business growth, but the survey revealed a wide degree of divergence in attitudes between different parts of the world.

While 58 percent of chief executives in the Asia Pacific region pinpointed the threat of climate change, just 18 percent of their counterparts in the US felt the same way.

Overall some 59 percent did not feel concerned by global warming's impact on their business.

PricewaterhouseCoopers' report on the survey said that systemic risks like climate change or a pandemic were generally lower down the list than financial or economic ones, partly because chief executives felt powerless.

"Our experience suggests ... that it reflects a sense of futility among managers as they face a set of nearly insurmountable challenges," the report said.

However, Pricewaterhouse said the issue was beginning to bite, as a growing number of chief executives indicated that they were turning to public-private sector partnerships to mitigate climate change.

The top five threats to business growth in the survey were over-regulation (78 percent), lack of skills (72 percent), low cost competition (66 percent), energy prices (62 percent) and commodity prices.

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