Canadian CEOs lose confidence in short term growth - Key concern is availability and access to talent



    TORONTO, Jan. 24 /CNW/ - CEOs' confidence about prospects for short-term
business growth dropped by almost half since last year and fears of a global
recession is a major threat according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 11th
Annual Global CEO Survey. The current uncertainty being played out in global
financial markets echoes this drop in confidence among global CEOs.
    The annual Global CEO Survey is based on interviews of 1,150 CEOs in 50
countries including 30 from Canada. According to the survey this year, only
33% of Canadian respondents are very confident about revenue growth over the
next 12 months - a pronounced drop of 27 points from 60% last year, and
compares to 50% of CEOs globally. Canadian CEOs however, remain confident
about longer-term growth and their competitive strengths, with 46% indicating
they are very confident in revenue growth over the next three years, compared
to 42% globally.
    Coupled with the lack of business confidence, Canadian CEOs are most
concerned about a lack of key labour skills (83%), over-regulation (64%),
followed by downturns in major economies (63%). Similarly, Global CEOs
indicated that a downturn in major economies (61%) and lack of key labour
skills (61%) are their main concerns, followed closely by over-regulation
(59%).
    According to CEOs in Canada, talent, agility and collaboration are their
main tools to achieve a competitive advantage for their companies, which
differ from the opinions of their peers in other parts of the world. Access
to, and retention of, key talent is considered by 97% to be a key source of
competitive advantage (versus 74% globally). Ninety-three percent also believe
that the ability to adapt to change is necessary to get an edge over the
competition, compared to 76% of global respondents. Another growth tool noted
by 80% of Canadian CEOs is the importance of implementing successful
collaborative industry and business partnerships (versus 61% globally).
    "The war for talent remains a key concern among Canadian CEOs, with over
three-quarters indicating that their time is best spent on the people agenda,"
says Ellen Corkery-Dooher, a PwC Advisory Services Partner. "They recognize
that having people with the right balance of commercial, technical and
management skills is the key to success in their organizations. Leadership,
adaptability, ability to collaborate, as well as creativity are seen as the
most critical skills for people to lead organizations effectively."
    According to the survey, respondents are focusing on the building blocks
of growth to grow their businesses. Thirty-three percent of Canadian CEOs put
expanding in their existing markets as a top priority, followed by geographic
expansion of their business at 27%. This compares to 30% globally who indicate
better penetration of existing markets is their main growth factor, followed
by new product development at 20% and geographic expansion at 19%. Ninety
percent of respondents in Canada are looking to finance growth through
internally generated cash flow compared to 82% globally.
    The survey also indicates that 13% of Canadian respondents have completed
a cross-border merger and acquisition (M&A) in the past 12 months, and only
17% plan to do so in the next 12 months. But there are still bright spots.
"Going global is still on the radar of many companies and M&A is an important
tool to help achieve this," says Keith Mosley, Leader of PwC's Corporate
Finance practice. "The current market offers a great buying opportunity for
strategic acquirers, especially given the strong Canadian dollar. While larger
deals, which are typically more influenced by capital markets, may be
influenced by current circumstances, the middle market is still going strong,"
he says.

    For more information on the PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) 11th annual
Global CEO Survey please visit www.pwc.com/ceosurvey

    PricewaterhouseCoopers (www.pwc.com) provides industry-focused assurance,
tax and advisory services to build public trust and enhance value for its
clients and their stakeholders. More than 146,000 people in 150 countries
across our network share their thinking, experience and solutions to develop
fresh perspectives and practical advice. In Canada, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
(www.pwc.com/ca) and its related entities have more than 5,200 partners and
staff in offices across the country.
    "PricewaterhouseCoopers" refers to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario
limited liability partnership, or, as the context requires, the
PricewaterhouseCoopers global network or other member firms of the network,
each of which is a separate and independent legal entity.





For further information:

For further information: Jonathan Hicks, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP,
(416) 869-2449, jonathan.hicks@ca.pwc.com; Carolyn Forest,
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, (416) 814-5730, carolyn.forest@ca.pwc.com

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