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FDs planning acquisition spree

61% of UK FDs plan to use cash reserves for aggressively pursuing acquisitions

24 May 2011

By Richard Crump

Acquisition of RBS WorldPay

FINANCE directors are planning to use their companies' cash reserves to "aggressively" pursue acquisitions despite being more pessimistic about the UK's economic outlook than they were a year ago.

According to a survey of senior finance executives by American Express, the mood of the UK's FDs has deteriorated from 2010 when 71 % were anticipating a return to economic expansion within the year, compared to only 56% this year.

In terms of their own companies, however, FDs exhibited a more upbeat view for growth prospects over the next 12 months. 61% expect  top-line growth, including 9% who expect substantial, as opposed to modest, revenue growth.

The majority of respondents to the survey, which included 665 FDs from across the world, reported that they had experienced strong cash flow over the past year and have been pursuing a deliberate cash preservation strategy.

With many companies now sitting on large cash stockpiles, finance executives have plans to put this capital to work: 61% of UK FDs say they plan to use cash reserves aggressively for acquisitions. But their muted expectations for economic expansion in the UK over the next 12 months also suggest that they may have a particular interest in cross-border deals.

Other areas in which UK respondents plan to spend cash reserves in the next twelve months include paying down debt, increasing R&D spending, increasing capital spending, and hiring new staff.

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