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Fri 15 Mar 2013 11:40 AM

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MidEast CFOs 'among world's most optimistic'

Latest Deloitte Global CFO Signals survey reveals upbeat outlook about company prospects

MidEast CFOs 'among world's most optimistic'

Chief financial officers in the Middle East are among the most optimistic in the world, according to Deloitte's Q4 Global CFO Signals survey.

Deloitte said CFO optimism has rebounded from historic lows in many countries as several political and economic "uncertainties" have been resolved or eased.

However, many CFOs worldwide said they remain cautious in resuming aggressive capital spending and are adopting a "wait-and-see" approach that will likely yield a slow global recovery process.

"It's no surprise that CFOs are still reacting to global economic volatility with caution and continued cost cutting," said James Babb, Deloitte Middle East CFO Programme Leader.

"However, it is also interesting to see the shift in confidence levels amongst CFOs, from 2008 till today. In general, 2012 was a year of dampened outlooks and uncertainty.

"However, this year, optimism levels amongst CFOs in the Middle East are expected to pick up as the global economic outlook is shifting," he added.

Based on the Deloitte survey, Middle East CFOs stand out for the strength of their outlook.

A net 54 percent of CFOs are more optimistic about their companies' prospects than six months ago — despite political instability and regional tensions.

And for 2013, CFOs said they predict that optimism will translate into increased operating cash flows driven by higher revenues, stricter credit controls, and continued cost reductions. The latter is a priority shared with their global CFO peers — many of whom are waiting to also share their optimism.

In addition, survey findings also showed that many CFOs are focusing their recovery on efforts close to home.

In the Middle East, the 30 percent of CFOs who are planning mergers & acquisitions (M&A) are aiming for targets aligned to existing businesses and within the MENA region.

Other findings in the survey indicated that steady oil prices and large public expenditures are bolstering CFO optimism across the Middle East.

The Q4 Signals survey tracked the thinking and actions of CFOs from more than 1,100 companies representing some 30 countries and geographies including North America, the Middle East, South Africa, Australia, and several European countries.

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