Out of 760 global CEOs, 66% of Asia-Pacific CEOs plan to increase capital investment to protect future growth, despite inflation concerns, and 50% will use M&A to expand capabilities, access new talent and transform their business: EY survey

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October 31, 2022 (press release) –

  • Ongoing COVID-19 pandemic disruptions, geopolitics and climate change weigh on strategic investment plans
  • Despite inflation concerns, two-thirds of respondents plan to increase capital investment to protect future growth
  • 50% will use M&A to expand capabilities, access new talent and transform their business

Asia-Pacific CEOs are set to invest to get ahead of the interrelated threats of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic-related disruptions, increasing geopolitical tensions and climate change. This is according to findings of EY CEO Outlook Pulse - October 2022, which surveyed the views of 760 global CEOs on their prospects, challenges and opportunities.

In Asia-Pacific, almost half of CEOs (48%) identify a continuation or return of COVID-19-related disruption, including new lockdowns and supply chain pressures, as the greatest risk to their business, higher than for CEOs in the Americas (43%) or Europe (41%). Inflation is also top of mind, with the majority of Asia-Pacific CEOs (68%) forecasting it will negatively impact their earnings and growth. With price rises across major inputs, including, labor, energy and raw materials, one-fifth (20%) consider inflation as the single-biggest threat to their companies’ revenue and margins.

Contributing to the challenges ahead, 38% of respondents pointed to geopolitical tensions and 35% to climate change and as critical risks to growth. As a result of geopolitical challenges, almost all respondents (95%) are reshaping their investment plans and operations (compared to 69% in February 2022). According to the EY survey, geopolitical concerns mean Asia-Pacific CEOs are actively reconfiguring their supply chains (48%), delaying a planned investment (43%) or relocating an operational asset (39%); while a quarter have stopped a planned investment (26%) or are exiting businesses in certain markets altogether (25%).

Yew-Poh Mak, EY Asia-Pacific Strategy and Transactions Leader, says:

“CEOs across Asia-Pacific are navigating a persistently complex business environment. The combination of ongoing pandemic-related disruptions, rising inflation, geopolitical tensions and climate change have created a perfect storm of high impact risks. Asia-Pacific CEOs need to pull what levers they can to mitigate these risks, while also creating optimal conditions for long-term value creation.”

Asia-Pacific CEOs stay future-focused with 50% planning M&A

Despite the geopolitical and economic headwinds, Asia-Pacific CEOs are not holding back on their investment plans, with a significant majority (66%) intending to increase capital investment versus just 13% who plan to reduce. Half of Asia-Pacific CEOs (50%) plan to pursue an acquisition in the next year (in line with the average of 48% between 2013–22), while 42% of respondents plan to be active on all fronts, looking to acquire, divest and enter new joint ventures or strategic alliances. When it comes to their next transaction, more than a quarter (26%) of respondents said that this will be driven by the need to invest in an early stage business to enhance their existing portfolio and access new talent, and 17% said that they will look to acquire a business in an adjacent sector to open new growth avenues.

Embedding sustainability products and services (42%), focusing on pricing to improve profitability (36%), and adapting supply chains for resiliency (35%) are the top three strategic actions Asia-Pacific CEOs respondents are planning to pursue to weather a challenging six months ahead.

Mak said: “Asia-Pacific is still the fastest growing region in the world and CEOs recognize they need to bolster their investments to keep pace with rapidly-changing market dynamics.

“Asia-Pacific CEOs see M&A, joint ventures and alliances as critical tools to quickly access the operational capabilities, talent and scale needed to transform their businesses and position themselves for future growth. However, Asia-Pacific CEOs are being much more selective in the deals they pursue, having strengthened their due diligence processes to make sure they're doing the right deal at the right price.”

Mak added: “Now is a critical time for Asia-Pacific CEOs to review their assumptions and re-examine their strategies through a new lens. Leading companies recognize the importance of a more local approach and will diversify their risk exposure by re-orienting their investments, focusing on value for stakeholders and moving supply chains closer to their customers.”

To read the full report, please visit: ey.com/en_gl/ceo/ceo-outlook-asia-pacific

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Notes to editors

About EY
EY exists to build a better working world, helping create long-term value for clients, people and society and build trust in the capital markets.

Enabled by data and technology, diverse EY teams in over 150 countries provide trust through assurance and help clients grow, transform and operate.

Working across assurance, consulting, law, strategy, tax and transactions, EY teams ask better questions to find new answers for the complex issues facing our world today.

EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. Information about how EY collects and uses personal data and a description of the rights individuals have under data protection legislation are available via ey.com/privacy. EY member firms do not practice law where prohibited by local laws. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.

This news release has been issued by EYGM Limited, a member of the global EY organization that also does not provide any services to clients.

About the EY 2022 CEO Outlook Pulse Survey

The EY 2022 CEO Outlook Pulse Survey aims to provide valuable insights on the main trends and developments impacting the world’s leading companies as well as business leaders’ expectations for future growth and long-term value creation.

It is a regular pulse survey of CEOs from large companies around the world, conducted by Longitude Research Limited, a Financial Times company.

In August 2022, Longitude surveyed on behalf of the global EY organization a panel of 760 CEOs in 10 countries and across six industries. Respondents represented the following industries: advanced manufacturing and mobility, consumer products and retail, energy and resources, financial services, health sciences and wellness, technology, media and telecoms.

Surveyed companies’ annual global revenues were as follows: less than US$500m (20%), US$500m– US$999.9m (20%), US$1b–US$4.9b (30%) and greater than US$5b (30%).

The CEO Imperative series provides critical answers and actions to help CEOs reframe their organization’s future. For more insights in this series visit ey.com/en_gl/ceo

* All content is copyrighted by Industry Intelligence, or the original respective author or source. You may not recirculate, redistrubte or publish the analysis and presentation included in the service without Industry Intelligence's prior written consent. Please review our terms of use.

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