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Wed 27 Jan 2010 07:10 AM

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40% of global CEOs plan to increase staff in 2010

PricewaterhouseCoopers survey shows confidence is higher among company chiefs.

CEOs across the world say their confidence for future growth has bounced back from the gloomy prospects of a year ago, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers 13th Annual Global CEO Survey.

This rising confidence has translated into a planned boost in recruitment, with nearly 40 percent of CEOs expecting to increase their headcount this year.

Contrasting with 25 per cent of CEOs planning job cuts over the next year, down from nearly half who decreased headcount in the past 12 months.

The survey, which included the views of 68 CEOs across the MENA region, also found that 81 percent of CEOs worldwide were confident of their prospects for the next 12 months, while only 18 percent said they remained pessimistic.

The results compared with 64 percent who said they were confident a year ago and 35 per cent who were pessimistic.

Thirty-one per cent of CEOs said they were now "very confident" of their short term prospects, up 10 percentage points from last year, a low point in CEO confidence since PwC began its tracking.   

The survey results were released on Wednesday at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.

Longer term, more than 90 percent of CEOs expressed confidence in growth over the next three years. Those results, coming at the start of a new decade, were about on par with confidence levels of CEOs in PwC’s 2000 survey.  

For the future, a total of 60 percent of CEOs said they expect recovery in their national economies only in second half of 2010 or later, while 13 percent said recovery was already underway, and 21 per cent said it would set in during the first half of this year.  Return to growth was fastest in China, where 67 per cent of CEOs said recovery had begun in 2009. However, nearly two-thirds of CEOs in the US and more than 70 per cent in Western Europe said the turnaround would not begin until the half of 2010.

"The fears of a global economic meltdown have receded and CEOs are more upbeat about their prospects," said Dennis M Nally, global chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"CEO confidence is tempered, however, by the slow pace of recovery and the impact of often drastic cost-cutting and other steps taken to survive the downturn. The emerging economies are clearly recovering at a faster pace than those that are more developed.

"The timing of the recovery will vary depending on geography and industry," added Nally.  

“In some fast-growing economies the turnaround is well under way; but CEOs in the countries hardest hit by the crisis see its effects remaining through 2010 and beyond.  CEOs must now shift their mindset to making strategic decisions about investing in growth in order to gain competitive advantage."

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