SA’s most im­por­tant part­ners

China, UK, US and In­dia

The Star Early Edition - - COMPANIES - Siseko Njobeni

SOUTH African chief ex­ec­u­tives have named the UK, US, China and In­dia as the most im­por­tant coun­tries for their re­spec­tive com­pa­nies’ growth in the next 12 months, ac­cord­ing to PwC’s lat­est An­nual Global CEO sur­vey.

The global sur­vey, which PwC re­leased at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum an­nual meet­ing in Davos yes­ter­day, in­cluded in­ter­views with 36 South African chief ex­ec­u­tives, drawn from a broad spec­trum of listed and un­listed com­pa­nies. Over­all, the sur­vey was based on in­ter­views with 1 379 chief ex­ec­u­tives from 79 coun­tries.

Speak­ing at the re­lease of the sur­vey in Jo­han­nes­burg yes­ter­day, PwC South­ern African chief ex­ec­u­tive Dion Shango said that for a long time Africa had been re­garded as a high growth area. But as a re­sult of a drop in com­mod­ity prices “Africa has fallen some­what”. He said it was sur­pris­ing to have the UK and the US high on the list. The sur­vey in­cluded min­ing com­pa­nies which were look­ing for mar­kets for their com­modi­ties.

Of the South African chief ex­ec­u­tives, 83 per­cent were con­fi­dent about their com­pa­nies’ prospects for rev­enue growth over the next 12 months, while 58 per­cent ex­pected their head­count to in­crease over the same period and 14 per­cent planned to cut their work­force, PwC said.

“It is pos­i­tive to note that lo­cal chief ex­ec­u­tives ex­pect to in­crease their head­count in the next 12 months. Chief ex­ec­u­tives are pro­mot­ing tal­ent di­ver­sity and in­clu­sive­ness. They have im­ple­mented strate­gies to re­flect the skills and em­ploy­ment struc­tures needed for the future,” Shango said.

The chief ex­ec­u­tives’ planned ac­tiv­i­ties in the next 12 months con­sisted of or­ganic growth, cost re­duc­tion and joint ven­tures.

PwC said the chief ex­ec­u­tives were con­cerned about eco­nomic and pol­icy threats. Th­ese in­cluded ex­change rate volatil­ity, un­em­ploy­ment and “geopo­lit­i­cal” un­cer­tainty.

He said the chief ex­ec­u­tives were also con­cerned about availability of skills, volatile en­ergy costs and changes in con­sumer be­hav­iour. “Con­cern about skills has more than dou­bled in 20 years – from 31 per­cent in 1998 to 77 per­cent this year,” PwC said.

It said lo­cal chief ex­ec­u­tives were tak­ing prag­matic steps to re­cruit, re­tain and de­velop tal­ent. Th­ese in­cluded pro­mot­ing tal­ent di­ver­sity, mov­ing tal­ent to where it was needed and chang­ing “peo­ple strat­egy” to re­flect future skills and em­ploy­ment struc­tures.

“Look­ing for­ward, chief ex­ec­u­tives will re­quire a dif­fer­ent set of skills. The events of the past year have shown us just how in­ter­con­nected the in­ter­ests of share­hold­ers and other stake­hold­ers re­ally are.

“Those busi­nesses that ar­tic­u­late their pur­pose, an­tic­i­pate risks and ad­here to the value they pro­fess will thrive. Busi­nesses that ig­nore the power of the peo­ple will jeop­ar­dise the growth they seek,” said Shango. He said there were chief ex­ec­u­tives who felt that there had not been enough in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture. “The ques­tion is which in­fra­struc­ture?”

Shango said that there had been sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in roads and power in­fra­struc­ture. He, how­ever, said there were peo­ple not sat­is­fied with broad­band in­fra­struc­ture. “But the ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture, which we use ev­ery day, seems to be work­ing well,” he said.

Ap­prox­i­mately 61 per­cent of the chief ex­ec­u­tives said tech­nol­ogy had ei­ther com­pletely re­shaped or had sig­nif­i­cant im­pacted on com­pe­ti­tion in their in­dus­try, while 75 per­cent said tech­nol­ogy would have a ma­jor im­pact in the next five years.

PHOTO: SIM­PHIWE MBOKAZI

An­ton van Wyk, part­ner at PwC, (left) and Dion Shango, PwC South­ern Africa chief ex­ec­u­tive, while brief­ing the me­dia at their An­nual Global CEO sur­vey held in Mel­rose Arch, Jo­han­nes­burg. The sur­vey was re­leased in Davos yes­ter­day.

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