Senior execs in MENA are optimistic about Egypt even as they brace for a sharp global slowdown
Senior execs in MENA are optimistic about Egypt even as they brace for a sharp global slowdown: Senior executives from the Middle East and North Africa are both uncertain and cautious about the effect of the covid-19 pandemic, with nearly three-quarters of respondents in a survey conducted by Ernst & Young (EY) expecting the covid-19 pandemic to have a severe impact on the global economy. Despite this, executives expect this impact to vary by region and as little as one quarter believe the pandemic will have a large impact on MENA. The survey was part of EY’s Global Capital Confidence Barometer (pdf).
There is relative optimism among Egypt-based execs, a third of whom don’t expect the pandemic to have a significant impact on the country. Only one-fifth anticipate economic activity to be heavily impacted.
Contrast this with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where the outlook is darker: More than 80% of respondents expect the global economy to be severely impacted and more than one-third predict a deep local recession.
But we’re (so far) doing alright as a region: “One reason MENA countries initially may have felt financially insulated from the pandemic is that many companies in the region are well-capitalized and therefore believe they can operate longer before feeling the financial pinch,” says EY.
Outlook for M&A remains healthy: When the survey was conducted, many executives anticipated an immediate term slowdown in traditional M&A activity, However, the executives’ intention to pursue M&A until March 2021 is still high at 51%.
In Egypt, M&A intentions are at 49%, higher than the long-term regional average of 39%. Intentions for the UAE are also solid at 56%, with Saudi executives reporting reasonable appetite, but still down from last year’s survey.
A word of warning: Surveys have a shelf life — they’re a snapshot in time — and this one was conducted between 4 February and 26 March, when the outbreak in the MENA region was in relative infancy.