Despite huge efforts to keep the euro zone afloat, business leaders now believe that some of the region's most troubled countries are riskier places to invest than war-torn nations in the Middle East or North Africa.
A new survey conducted by accountancy firm BDO which asked chief financial officers (CFOs) from medium-sized companies how they view their growth prospects overseas found that CFOs are still pursuing international expansion in order to drive revenue, but they are more cautious about where they choose to invest.
Spain is now perceived as being riskier than Egypt, while
Eighty percent of CFOs consider Greece as risky because of its economic problems, and 86 percent would avoid Spain for the same reason.
"CFOs have redrawn the map of investment risk and reward, with Iran, Iraq and Greece top of the perceived riskiest markets. The 'big seven' (China, USA, Brazil, India, Germany, Russia and U.K.) lead the index as attractive investment markets, due to size and customer potential," the report said.
Eleven percent of CFOs mentioned Greece first as a country that would be most risky to invest in. Overall, it is ranked as third most risky after Iran in first place and Iraq in second.
China remained the top investment destination, followed by the U.S. Some 69 percent of CFOs cited China's market size as a key advantage and 37 percent were attracted to cheap labor in the country. The number of CFOs investing or planning to invest in the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China increased to 45 percent in 2012 from 29 percent 2011.
Meanwhile France dropped from seventh most attractive country for investment to 13th. Japan dropped 10 places to 27th spot. "Cultural and language issues are seen as barriers to success in both markets," the survey said. (Read More: Eight Ways to Invest in Aging Asia)
The survey, for which 1,050 interviews were conducted across 14 countries with CFOs, financial directors and other heads of finance, also found a shift in CFOs' concerns.
"In 2011, red tape and bureaucracy topped the list of CFO concerns but in 2012 the focus is on the threats presented by currency fluctuations and geopolitical risk," the report said. "Currency risk is regarded by one in eight respondents as having increased significantly in the past year."