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Too early to call bottom of euro zone crisis: Wolters Kluwer

Tuesday, 26 Nov 2013 | 3:26 AM ET
'Challenging' conditions in Europe: Wolters Kluwer CFO
Tuesday, 26 Nov 2013 | 2:30 AM ET
Kevin Entricken, CFO of Wolters Kluwer, says there is an "abatement" in the rate of decline in Europe but challenging economic conditions remain, particularly in the south.

Europe's economic crisis might be calming, but euro zone countries -- particularly in the south -- still face "challenging economic conditions," the chief financial officer at publisher Wolters Kluwer told CNBC.

"What we have seen in Europe is a bit of abatement in the rate of decline, we do still see challenging economic conditions certainly in the southern part of Europe – I would say that at this stage in the game it's too early to call the bottom to that," Kevin Entricken told CNBC Europe's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday.

His comments come against a backdrop of uncertain global growth, with investors still uncertain as to the direction of U.S. Federal Reserve monetary policy, which has injected liquidity and buoyed investor sentiment.

For its part, growth in the euro zone's growth outlook looks shaky at best. In the third quarter of 2013, the 17-strong bloc grew by just 0.1 percent quarter on quarter, marking a slowdown from an expansion of 0.3 percent in the second quarter.

(Read more: 'Europe heading for catastrophe' despite German growth)

Wolters Kluwer, a Netherlands-based company, provides professional information services to a number of sectors including the health, financial services, legal, tax and regulatory sectors. It notes on its website that 40 percent of its revenue comes from Europe, 54 percent from the U.S. and six percent from emerging markets.

Those figures make it particularly exposed to any downturn in Europe although Entricken appeared relaxed about the region's anemic growth.

"We operate in 18 countries around Europe and have continued to invest there even through the downturn and we believe that will make us a stronger competitor as the economic situation improves sometime in the future."

(Read more: Banking union delay 'a shackle' on growth: BNP Paribas)

Despite the risks, other leading chief financial officers (CFOs) also seem relatively sanguine about the challenges ahead. In a survey of CFOs from Europe and Asia, which was carried out by CNBC in October, two-thirds of the business leaders questioned said they believed the global economy was steadily improving and over half said they would hire actively over the next six months.

Wolters Kluwer employs around 19,000 people worldwide and reported annual revenues of 3.6 billion euros ($4.8 billion) in 2012. Entricken, a member of the CFO Council that CNBC surveyed, said that hiring was a priority for the firm in the next twelve months.

(Read more: German growth 'nothing to hang our hats on': Deutsche Post)

He said the company saw "plenty of opportunities in many of [its] software and service type businesses," he said, and was planning to expand its clinical solutions business and tax software in the future.

"Certainly in areas where we see growth we're willing to invest and have been for quite some time, we invest some 8 to 10 percent of our revenues into innovative solutions to develop new and enhanced products, so certainly investing in software developers and sales and marketing staff is key to our position going forward."

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt

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