19 Jan 2012

Global business confidence is balancing on a knife edge heading into 2012 according to new figures from Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR). With the global economic outlook dominated by the crisis in the eurozone, fears are increasing that business growth will become even more difficult than in 2011.

The latest research shows that global business optimism in the fourth quarter of 2011 stands at net 0%, indicating a balance between those business leaders feeling optimistic about their economies in 2012 and those feeling pessimistic.

The regional picture is, however, more nuanced. Optimism levels in the BRIC economies (up from 25% to 34%) and North America (up from 3% to 6%) have shown significant improvement over the last quarter. In Canada 46 % of the businesses is indicating optimism. However, at the global level, this has been offset by a large drop in Europe where optimism fell from 0% to -17% in Q4.

Ed Nusbaum, CEO of Grant Thornton International, said: “Heading into 2012, we’re seeing a polarisation of business confidence between Europe and the rest of the world. However, the threat of total meltdown in the eurozone means business leaders remain uncertain about the year ahead – they simply do not know how things will turn out. That uncertainty is sapping confidence and choking business growth prospects.

“The business optimism results mirror the perilous position of the global economy; stronger results for key markets such as Brazil, China and the United States being offset by the lack of a clear resolution to the sovereign debt crisis in Europe.”

The research also suggests global trade is suffering. Having risen by 10 percentage points in Q3, the proportion of businesses citing a shortage of orders rose again in Q4, up five percentage points to 37% globally. This result was largely driven by an increase of nine percentage points across the eurozone, but businesses in North America (up seven) and the BRICs (up four) are also suffering. In addition, business expectation for increasing revenues and profits fell by two percentage points globally over the last quarter.

Away from the economic gloom, the results from the United States provide a welcome and encouraging bright spot in the research. Expectations for increasing revenue and profits in the world’s largest economy in 2012 are both up by seven percentage points, to stand at 48% and 40% respectively. Further, net 35% of US businesses plan to hire workers over the next 12 months.

Ed Nusbaum added: “Around the world, prospects for growth are mixed. Businesses are having to work harder than ever to maintain margins and competitiveness in the face of powerful economic headwinds. Vital to the situation improving or deteriorating is the fate of the eurozone.

“This threatens to undermine business prospects around the world, not just in Europe. Businesses in the higher growth economies such as China and Brazil remain positive for now but Europe is the world’s largest single market and consequently a key trading partner. The effects of a further downturn will resonate even in these high growth markets and beyond.

“Policymakers in Europe have some job on their hands in 2012. The concern for businesses is that a focus on austerity rather than economic growth is damaging their own growth prospects. Certainly, the resolution of the crisis and securing the future of the euro is top of their New Year’s wish list.”

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For further information please contact:
Christine Hobart
International communications manager
T +44 207 391 9548
E christine.hobart@uk.gt.com

Notes to editors
The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) provides insight into the views and expectations of over 11,500 businesses per year across 40 economies. This unique survey draws upon 20 years of trend data for most European participants and nine years for many non-European economies. For more information, please visit: www.internationalbusinessreport.com.

Data collection
The research is carried out primarily by telephone interview lasting approximately 15 minutes with the exception of Japan (postal), Philippines and Armenia (face to face), mainland China and India (mixture of face-to-face and telephone) where cultural differences dictate a tailored approach. Telephone interviews enable Grant Thornton International to conduct the exact number of recommended interviews and to be certain that the most appropriate individuals are interviewed in an organisation which meets the profile criteria.

Data collection is managed by Grant Thornton International’s core research partner – Experian. Questionnaires are translated into local languages with each participating country
having the option to ask a small number of country specific questions in addition to the core questionnaire. From 2011, fieldwork takes place on a quarterly basis every quarter with fieldwork lasting approximately one month and a half.

Sample
IBR is a survey of both listed and privately held businesses. The data for this release are drawn from interviews with 2,800 businesses across the globe conducted in November/December 2011.

The target respondents are chief executive officers, managing directors, chairmen or other senior executives (title dependent on what is most appropriate for the individual country) from 40 economies primarily across five sectors: manufacturing (25 per cent), services (25 per cent), retail (15 per cent) and construction (10 per cent) with the remaining 25 per cent spread across all sectors.

Locally, the sample tends to cover the sectors mentioned previously, with some countries being able to have local valid data for specific sectors or regions when the sample size is large enough.

Group/région Economies included in IBR
Asia-Pacific (APAC) Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, China (mainland), Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam
BRIC Brazil, Russia, India, China (mainland)
European Union (EU) Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy,
Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom
G7 Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom, United States of America
Latin America Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru
Nordic Denmark, Finland, Sweden
North America Canada, United States of America
Other Armenia, Botswana, Georgia, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates

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18 Jan 2012

Grant Thornton International is releasing its report Global economy in 2012: a rocky road to recovery. The report details the global challenges that businesses faced in 2011 and discusses issues that had an impact on the business development of certain entities.

In addition to studying the influence of certain events such as the Arab Spring, the report explores certain 2012 trends related to investment, inflation, employment, women in the workplace, corporate social responsibility, renewable energy, etc.

The document can be found on Grant Thornton International’s website

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13 Jan 2012

Twenty years on from the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, which paved the way for the creation of the euro, research from the Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) reveals that, despite the ongoing sovereign debt crisis, business leaders remain very supportive of the single currency.

The research reveals that almost four in five (78%) business leaders in the eurozone believe joining the euro has had a positive impact on their business. The main positive impacts cited are the boost to trade with other euro countries (23%), the elimination of exchange rate risk (15%) and greater transparency on prices (12%).

Business leaders were also asked about the drawbacks associated with joining the single currency – 57% cited a rise in costs and prices – but when asked if they would like to see the euro survive, an overwhelming 92% agreed. Businesses in Finland (90%) and Belgium (84%) are the most positive about the impact of the single currency, with those in Italy (48%) the least. The two regional economic heavyweights, Germany (79%) and France (71%), remain solidly supportive.

Ed Nusbaum, CEO of Grant Thornton International, said: “If a referendum on the future of the euro were held today amongst business leaders, then the result would be emphatically to keep it going. This represents economic realism on the part of businesses; Europe may have already gone back into recession but a break-up of the single currency could take the global economy down with it.

“Despite the sovereign debt crisis and the uncertainty this has caused, businesses remain supportive of the single currency. Politicians should take heed of the wishes of businesses as they search for resolutions that secure the future of the euro, and map out plans for future European integration.”

The future of the eurozone

The IBR reveals that business views on further European integration are more mixed. Less than one in three eurozone businesses said they would like to see the single currency expand (31%), although interestingly, those in the troubled economies of Greece (62%) and Spain (53%) are most keen to welcome new entrants.

Meanwhile, almost a quarter of eurozone businesses (24%) would like to see some countries drop out of the single currency. This is a popular option in the only remaining eurozone members with AAA-rated sovereign debt: Finland (50%), Germany (40%) and the Netherlands (24%).

Outside the eurozone the picture is also varied; the majority of business leaders in Poland (64%) and Denmark (62%) would like their country to join the single currency. But few of their peers in the UK (12%) and Sweden (28%) agree. Outside the EU, 88% of businesses in Turkey would like their economy to integrate further with Europe, but just 32% would like to join the euro.

Ed Nusbaum added: “The next few months could be the most significant in the history of the single currency, and arguably of the EU itself. The good news is that business support for keeping the euro intact remains robust.

“However, many substantial challenges lie ahead. Perhaps the most important is reducing government debt – which exceeds the 60% threshold for entrance into the single currency set out in the Maastricht Treaty 20 years ago in Belgium, France, Greece, Italy and Ireland – whilst ensuring that austerity does not strangle business growth prospects.”

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Notes to editors
The Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) provides insight into the views and expectations of over 11,500 businesses per year across 40 economies. This unique survey draws upon 20 years of trend data for most European participants and nine years for many non-European economies. For more information, please visit: www.internationalbusinessreport.com.

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13 Jan 2012

MONTRÉAL, January 13, 2012 – Jean Robillard, President and CEO of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, is very proud to announce the appointment of Nathalie Normandeau to the position of Vice-President of Strategic Development at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. “The arrival of a personality as talented and influential as Nathalie Normandeau within our Firm is a tremendous boon for our team and especially for our clients who will be able to benefit from her rich expertise and knowledge of Quebec economic, financial and political issues to support them in their business projects,” he commented.

Ms. Normandeau’s responsibilities will include advising clients operating in various economic sectors. “Clients across Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton’s network and 90 offices will be able to benefit from my knowledge of government and Quebec regions, their specific issues and their economic and political challenges. I am delighted to join this influential Quebec firm, where I will be able to continue contributing to the success of businesses throughout Quebec,” stated Nathalie Normandeau, Vice-President of Strategic Development.

Contrary to what was reported by certain media outlets yesterday, Ms. Normandeau will have no specific assignment related to the Plan Nord. Moreover, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton is aware that Ms. Normandeau is subject to certain constraints under the Code of ethics and conduct of the Members of the National Assembly and the Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Act. Both Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton and Ms. Normandeau have every intention of complying with these requirements.
“Considering Ms. Normandeau’s leadership, her ability to mobilize people, her communication skills and her utmost professionalism, her contributions will clearly be an enormous advantage for our team and clients. On behalf of all of our Partner and employees, I would like to reiterate our appreciation that she has chosen Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton to help build Quebec businesses by contributing to the growth of our Quebec clients and entrepreneurs. I wish her all the best with her new duties,” concluded Jean Robillard.

Ms. Normandeau will begin her duties officially in May 2012 and, while she will be stationed out of the Montréal office, she is prepared to travel all over Quebec to serve our clients.

About Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

Founded in 1948, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton is a leader in the fields of assurance, taxation, consulting and recovery and reorganization services. The Firm owes its success to over 2,000 employees, including more than 225 Partners in over 90 offices in Quebec, eastern Ontario and New Brunswick. The scope of its network makes it a leader in its business segment. For the past 30 years, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton has been a member of Grant Thornton International Ltd providing its clients with the expertise of member and correspondent firms in more than 100 countries.

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For more information:

Francis Letendre
Public Relations Consultant
Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton
T.: 514-390-4201
C.: 514-554-1685
letendre.francis@rcgt.com
www.rcgt.com