Diverging fortunes going into 2010

Deloitte Belgium publishes results of its fourth 2009 CFO Survey

Brussels, 3 February 2010 – Growth came back to Belgium in the fourth quarter. Cautious optimism provides a bit of fresh air to business as 2010 is seen as the year of recovery. For some corporates the attention shifts from surviving to winning in a changing world after the recession. But financial conservatism and a focus on cost management stay top of mind for CFOs, along with concerns on liquidity and funding. Many worry that the recovery will be weak and that 2010 will be another difficult year.

The fourth edition of the Deloitte Belgian CFO Survey “Diverging fortunes going into 2010”, conducted from 15 December to 10 January is published today. Since the start of the year, Deloitte’s quarterly poll has explored the changing attitudes of CFOs in this country as their firms cope with this particularly challenging period.

Fresh air, fresh credit

“For the first time in a year, the expected timing of the recovery hasn’t shifted backwards,” remarked Thierry Van Schoubroeck, Partner, Deloitte CFO Services, who conducted the survey. “Corporates more and more think beyond the crisis. For the first time in a year, we see a significant reduction in typical crisis management measures.”

The stabilisation of the financial sector has led to a gradual improvement in the cost and the availability of credit for the corporate sector. Low base rates finally seem to translate into lower interest rates for corporates. “But the survey shows that for 40% of respondents bank borrowing is still difficult to obtain, “adds Thierry Van Schoubroeck.

Focus on the future

In the recession, CFOs understood the need for focusing on costs, cash and investor confidence. While this focus will continue in 2010, CFOs are also planning to expand revenues. “These priorities testify to both the risks and the opportunities that CFOs see ahead,” observed Thierry Van Schoubroeck.

Highlights of the fourth 2009 CFO Survey

Growth is back in the fourth quarter. More and more, cautiously optimistic corporates are thinking beyond the recession. While typical crisis management measures remain widespread, for the first time this year we see a significant reduction in their further implementation.

“Today the economy and the financial system are still a long way from normal,” concluded Thierry Van Schoubroeck, “but as the CFO Survey demonstrates, things are looking up.”

About the survey

The 2009 fourth-quarter edition of the Deloitte Belgian CFO Survey was conducted from 15 December to 10 January. A total of 50 CFOs took part. 50% represented a listed company with the rest representing privately held firms. Covering a variety of industries, 35% of the participating companies had a turnover of over €1 billion, 44% had €100 million to €1 billion, and 21% had less than €100 million. For more details on the results, please check www.deloitte.com/be/cfo-survey