Press release

Middle Eastern CEOs are more confident about growth than their global counterparts

  • PwC's  Middle East 2013 CEO survey touches upon growth prospects and opportunities  “Go abroad” strategies , business risks and workforce availability

  • Optimism in the region is being translated into expectations of major increase in employment headcount

Dead Sea, Jordan – 26 May 2013 –In conjunction with the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa 2013, PwC Middle East revealed the results of the 2013 Middle East CEO Survey titled “Matching confidence with competitiveness”. 53% % of CEOs in the region are very confident about prospects for business and economic growth over the next 12 months. The depth of confidence sets Middle East CEOs apart from any other region in the world(36%).. This relative optimism is expressed both in terms of confidence about their companies’ growth and the outlook for wider economic growth.

In common with the global trend, confidence among CEOs in the region is down compared to last year’s survey (60%).

Commenting on the findings Hani Ashkar, Middle East Deals Leader at PwC, said: “The high confidence percentage of Middle East CEOs led to a positive outlook for the economy. Compared to their global counterparts, Middle East CEOs are expecting a major employment headcount increase with over two thirds expecting a 5% or more rise.”
Growth Opportunities

Domestic markets present a more open and competitive environment now than in the past. 44% of Middle East CEOs see organic domestic growth as a primary driver in 2013. Alternatively, 25 % view growth stemming from new operations in foreign markets and 13 % from new mergers and acquisitions (M&A), joint ventures or strategic alliances.

“Go abroad “Strategies

Many Middle East CEOs are positioning their companies to take advantage of emerging market opportunities that exists in Africa and Asia. A quarter of the Middle East CEOs appear to have their sights set on this ‘south-south’ opportunity as their main route to growth in the period ahead.

Deals and Strategic Alliances

38% of Middle East CEOs count M&A and strategic alliances, among the top investment priorities for their companies in the upcoming 12 months. A massive 73% target those M&A’s and alliances in their own region, followed by 36% for Africa, 27% for South-East Asia, and 27% for Western Europe.

Risks

41% of Middle East CEOs say that the risk of disruption arising from social unrest tops the lists of their concerns. Based on the survey findings other Middle East CEOs believe that other concerns could pose risk to their business; the two other concerns that stood out are over-regulation (75%) and the shortage of a skilled workforces (69%).

Operational effectiveness

Identifying operation transformation ranks number one on the list of investment priorities for Middle East CEOs, through balancing efficiency with agility.

Commenting on this finding Warwick Hunt , PwC Middle East Senior Partner said “Middle East CEOs are acknowledging the challenges present and are adding a stronger emphasis on strengthening their companies’ operational effectiveness, including investing in roll out of new technologies and addressing talent gaps. According to our findings CEOs today have clearly learned from their experiences, where 25%of the Middle East CEOs plan in the coming 12 months to have direct control of activities by in-sourcing business processes which would ultimately give them greater resilience in the event of disruption.”

Workforce and skills

75 %of Middle East CEOs expressed intent to boost headcount in the coming year, where only 6% anticipate job reductions , as opposed to 23 % globally.
With the continuing focus utlising home-grown skills, 81% of CEOs in the region are planning investments to grow their home market. At the same time, they don’t expect to do it alone, 53% said a skilled workforce should be a top government priority.

Change plans

88 % of Middle East CEOs anticipate making changes in the next 12 months related to customer growth loyalty strategies and talent management. In addition, 81% recognize the need for change in their technology investments.

90 % of respondents are seeking to strengthen their engagement programmes with customers and clients, 84 %with stakeholders using social media and 83 % with the media.

- ENDS  -

Notes to editors:

1. Survey Methodology:

For PwC's 16th Annual Global CEO Survey, 1,330 interviews were conducted in 68 countries, including  32 from eight countries in  the Middle East , spread across different industries.

Quantitative research supplemented with face-to-face interviews with 33 CEOs from five continents over the fourth quarter of 2012 . The research was co-ordinated by PwCs’ International Survey Unit

The full survey report with supporting graphics can be downloaded at www.pwc.com/ceosurvey.

2. About PwC:

PwC firms help organisations and individuals create the value they’re looking for. We’re a network of firms in 158 countries with over 180,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax and advisory services. Tell us what matters to you and find out more by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

Established in the Middle East for 40 years, PwC has firms in Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, the Palestinian territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with around 2,700 people. (www.pwc.com/middle-east)

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.
©2013 PricewaterhouseCoopers. All rights reserved