Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) are viewed as opportunities rather than threats by CEOs in a globalising world but the US is still cited as the most important region crucial to their businesses.
This emerges from the NYSE Euronext 2009 CEO Report, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, "Managing During Economic Turbulence," underscoring that the current US and global economic conditions will separate the best companies from great ones.
NYSE Euronext (NYX) operates the world's leading exchange group with 4,000 listed companies representing a combined $28.5 trillion in total global market capitalisation more than four times that of any other exchange group.
For the fourth consecutive year, the US is cited as the most important region (66 percent), followed by China (9 percent) and Western Europe (9 percent). In fact, most CEOs (90 percent) view the US as crucial or important to their businesses.
Nearly two-thirds of CEOs view BRIC countries as opportunities (63 percent). This is particularly true of CEOs from non-US companies, of which nearly 8 in 10 see BRICs countries as an opportunity.
Sensible acquisitions and expansions are targeted in BRICs countries with the majority saying they would maximise their opportunity by establishing or expanding local marketing and sales activity.
Half (47 percent) of CEOs from NYSE Euronext-listed companies plan to establish or expand local marketing and sales activities in BRIC countries through 2009. One-quarter will seek or expand local partnerships.
However, K.V. Kamath, CEO of ICICI Bank Ltd., India's second-largest bank cautioned that "Global companies have to adapt to operating in markets with very high growth rates. It puts a strain on manufacturing capabilities and demand for talent."
Also, a vast majority of CEOs believe that changes to the US legal and regulatory systems would have a positive impact in the competitive position of the US capital markets.
US-based CEOs are more optimistic about the impact these will have, compared to non-US-based CEOs. US-based CEOs are less likely to believe a convergence of international accounting standards would have the same positive impact.
Most CEOs (41 percent), both at US and non-US-based organizations, felt the most important corporate responsibility task is ensuring all labour practices are ethical across their organization.
Those based outside the US believed formalizing corporate responsibility positions and policies to be the second most important action; US-based organizations supported initiating or participating in industry-level regulatory efforts to enforce ethical business behaviors and practices.
Indra K. Nooyi, India-born chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, Inc. suggests “doing well by doing good” is simply good business.
PepsiCo, Inc. is not only reducing fat and calories in many of its snack food offerings in the hope of helping address the global obesity epidemic but it is also putting in place initiatives to encourage healthy and active lifestyles.
"Keeping the focus on the heart and soul of our business - our products and the consumers who enjoy them - will remain the key imperative for us," said Nooyi.
A renewed focus on a strong balance sheet, strategic acquisitions, operational efficiency, sound management practices, as well as attracting and retaining the best workforce are the key to future growth during turbulent economic times, according to the report.
The report, which focuses on how CEOs of NYSE Euronext-listed companies are dealing with an uncertain economy, highlights several themes including: a change in perceptions about the global economy, greater difficulty attracting and retaining investors, and a redefining of shareholder metrics.
Overshadowing the survey is the dramatic shift in the perceptions of CEOs of leading NYSE Euronext-listed companies about the current business environment. One year ago, 84 percent of US-based CEOs described the US economy as good or excellent, compared with only 10 percent this year.
"Although CEOs are facing the most challenging period of their tenures, a great number of respondents are reporting that their jobs are more rewarding than in previous years, albeit more time consuming," said Jeff Resnick, president of Opinion Research Corporation. "They thrive on challenge and this clearly comes through in our results this year."
As a result of tougher economic conditions, the proportion of CEOs saying it is more difficult to attract investors has risen to almost one out of three. Almost half (45 percent) of CEOs running financial services businesses are finding it more difficult to attract new investors and retain existing investors. Overall, CEOs believe consistency counts with investors.