Chief financial officers (CFOs) from some of the world's largest firms are largely lukewarm on the economic shakeup Saudi Arabia is currently undertaking, according to a new survey conducted by CNBC.
Nearly 40 percent of global CFOs across a wide range of industries said there was "no change" when asked whether the new measures made Saudi Arabia a more attractive investment proposition. Nearly 35 percent said it would only make the country "slightly" more attractive for investment. Over 5 percent of the respondents said it would be "slightly less" attractive.
In April, Saudi Arabia's government unveiled a long-term economic blueprint for life in a low-oil-price world. Titled "Saudi Vision 2030," the plan includes regulatory, budget and policy changes that will be implemented over the next 15 years in the hope of making the kingdom less reliant on crude. The commodity has suffered a dramatic fall in price since mid-2014 and the bulk of Riyadh's state revenues come from energy exports.
Launching the plan, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman detailed the future of privatization in Saudi Arabia and the creation of what would be the "largest sovereign wealth fund in the world." The planned economic diversification also involved localizing renewable energy and industrial equipment sectors and creating high-quality tourism attractions. It also plans to make it easier to apply for visas and hoped to create 90,000 jobs in its mining sector.
Close to none of the global CFOs that responded said the plans would make Saudi Arabia a "more attractive" investment and the overhaul has received mixed reviews from analysts. Some say that it would be a struggle for the Kingdom to wean itself off its reliance on oil. However, Timothy Ash, the head of emerging markets at Standard Bank, believes the vision creates huge potential for foreign companies to help with the transition.
"The key question is can Saudi society cope with such an ambitious plan/ambition which could strain society to the core?," he said in a note in April, shortly after the announcements.
On Saturday, ratings agency Moody's downgraded Saudi Arabia's credit rating by one notch, noting the fall in oil prices. It said the government had "ambitious and comprehensive" plans to address the shock by diversifying its economic and fiscal base, but added that those plans are at an early stage of development and their impact remained uncertain.
Another country panning for a potential economic transition is the United Kingdom which heads to the polls on June 23 to decide whether it should remain part of the European Union.
Chief financial officers (CFOs) overwhelmingly signaled that a so-called "Brexit" would have a "negative" impact on the rest of the European bloc. A majority of the chief execs also said it would have a "negative" or "very negative" impact on the country itself. Conversely, most respondents thought a U.K. exit from the EU would have no measurable impact on the United States.
In CNBC's last survey, conducted in March, over 70 percent of global CFOs said there would be "no change" on their perspective on how likely they would be to do business with the U.K. in the event of an exit. Although, 14.6 percent of respondents said they would be "slightly less likely" to do business with the country.
The fierce debate in the U.K. has strained relationships and seen major political heavyweights like Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson put forward opposing views. Bookmaker Ladbrokes is currently predicting there's a 29 percent chance that Britons will vote to leave the European bloc in an upcoming referendum. Just 14 percent of CNBC survey respondents believed that the U.K. would vote to leave the bloc, with 14 percent saying that it would.
Complete survey results below:
(Note: 44 of the 103 current members of the CNBC Global CFO Council responded to this quarter's survey. Members represent a diverse mix of public and private companies from around the world, with more than $2 trillion in market capitalization.) The latest CNBC Global CFO Council survey, was conducted between April 29 and May 11.