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Greek Business Executives More Optimistic over Economic Developments, Ernst & Young Report Says

Αssociated Press

The moon rises behind the ancient Acropolis hill with the 500 BC Parthenon temple in Athens, on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS - Greek business executives are more optimistic over economic developments, domestic and international, Ernst & Young said in its Global Capital Confidence Barometer report.

More specifically, a 62 pct of Greek executives expect the global economy to grow in 2020 and a 73 pct of executives expect the Greek economy to grow further in the year. This optimism is based on political stability in the country, a relatively increase inflow of foreign investments, a reduction in unemployment, an improvement in the balance sheets of banks and a successful return of the Greek state in capital markets.

Business executives' optimism is also enhanced by confidence in domestic corporate profits and a short-term stability of the market along with a limited increase in basic financial indicators, such as profitability and costs. A 57 pct of executives expect a moderate to strong increase in revenue in the next 12 months and a 42 pct of executives expect an increase in profit margins.

However, a majority of Greek executives (55 pct) expect an economic slowdown -globally and domestic- of which 77 pct expect this to happen in 2021 or earlier. These estimates are based on geopolitical and political uncertainties, concern over regulatory environment and new environmental policies.

An 18 pct of Greek executives said they are willing to relocate their businesses to other countries in the face of external uncertainties, a 62 pct said they will seek mergers and acquisitions next year (an historic high level), while a 56 pct said they expect the domestic M&A market to improve in the next 12 months (down from 83 pct in October 2018). Greek business executives acknowledge the impact of a digital transformation on enterprises, sectors and markets, with a 28 pct of them focusing on the progress of analytics and a 20 pct on 5G technology.

A 46 pct of executives focusing on in-house development and internal corporate capital, a 50 pct said they could examine external investment opportunities, while a 51 pct said they would distribute 25 pct or more of their total investment capital in digital and technological applications.

Finding the necessary workforce could become the biggest hurdle for Greek enterprises, with a 70 pct of executives saying they find it difficult to hire and maintain skilled personnel.

More than ever, Greek enterprises feel the need to prove they contribute added value to people, customers and the society, the report said.