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Asia’s CEOs Confident, Despite External Threats

The historic U.S. credit downgrade and the ongoing European debt crisis may have spooked Asian markets, but CEOs of companies ranging from finance to telecommunications told CNBC that they were confident about their business prospects.

Businessman with crystal ball
Fredrik Skold | The Image Bank | Getty Images
Businessman with crystal ball

“We have survived over the past 2-3 years notwithstanding the lack of any serious momentum from Europe or North America,” Ronald Arculli, CEO of Hong Kong Exchange, said Thursday.

He added that the outlook for Asian economies was generally positive not just for this year but over the next couple of years.

Chua Sock Koong, Group CEO of Singapore-based SingTel, which has operations in Asia, Australia and Africa shares a similar view. She said the telecommunications giant would remain successful in a global environment of slower growth.

“While we would expect some impact if we see a prolonged slowdown or worst case a recession, I think (emerging) markets will probably weather the recession better than the developed economies,” she said.

Chua says that she has no plans to curtail capital investments and added that the firm’s “very strong financial position” places it in a “very good position” to take advantage of acquisition opportunities, if they come by.

Another CEO from a sector that is reeling from inflation also did not see a slowdown in demand. Don Meij, CEO Domino’s Pizza, Australia, New Zealand, said, “Food is the most expensive it’s been…despite all these increases we’re still the most productive we’ve ever been in our history and also the most profitable.”

Meij explained that the fast-food chain has been relatively shielded by higher commodity costs, thanks to the stronger Australian dollar, which has helped to keep prices of imported ingredients in check.

He said “providing value” would remain central to Dominos’ strategy, particularly at a time when consumers are price-sensitive. The company expects EBITDA growth of 15-20 percent this financial year ending June 30, 2012.

In the aviation sector, John Slosar, CEO of Cathay Pacific, said the Hong Kong-based carrier hadn’t witnessed changes in its booking patterns over the last week. He believes business travel will continue to remain strong particularly between Greater China, the U.S. and the rest of the world.

Asia’s fourth largest airline on Wednesday announced that it had placed orders for four Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and eight Boeing 777-200F freighters with a list price of $3.28 billion, an indicator that demand for cargo and travel demand is expected to remain robust.

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