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Business investment hopes rise in UK

09/10/13

Corporate finance departments could become central to the UK's ongoing economic recovery as more large firms express optimism over their expectations for hiring and investment, according to the latest survey from Deloitte.

While other metrics have improved over the last six months, much to the joy of George Osbourne and company, business investment has been slow to pick up.

However, expansion is a higher priority for finance directors than cutting costs and building up cash for the first time since 2011, meaning the corporate world could be in for a busy six months.

Ian Stewart, chief economist at Deloitte, welcomed the arrival of a "new mood of confidence" as concerns over the world's economic outlook are replaced by enthusiasm about the opportunities available to canny firms.

"The defensive strategies of cost cutting and cash accumulation that saw corporates through the global financial crisis are increasingly out of favour. The priority now is expansion and the balance-sheet cycle has turned decisively towards growth," he argued.

Many of the chief financial officers (CFOs) questioned as part of Deloitte's report were from FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies, with the overall mood recorded suggesting these organisations could be at the forefront of corporate recovery.

Only 29 per cent consider reducing spending to be a priority, with 54 per cent of CFOs feeling now is a good time to take a risk on the balance sheet in the hope of securing increased income in the future.

This is up from 49 per cent in the last quarter and marks a six-year high, lending credence to the idea that businesses are entering a new atmosphere of positivity and growth.

While concerns remain over some of the policies mooted by newly-appointed Bank of England governor Mark Carney, only 62 per cent of respondents felt their businesses were facing high levels of uncertainty and risk.

One thing that could affect this relative positivity is the ongoing debate over Britain's place in Europe, with many business leaders concerned about this issue.

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