SINGAPORE - Middle-market firms in Singapore are brimming with optimism this year, with nine in 10 expecting growth in excess of the global average growth rate of 6 per cent, according to the annual EY Growth Barometer released on Wednesday (July 25).
Middle-market firms are those with sizeable annual revenues that fall centrally within the market in which they operate. Thus, they straddle the middle market between smaller companies and the billion-dollar giants.
Singapore ranked fourth for growth expectations in Ernst & Young's survey of 2,766 middle-market executives across 21 countries, including 103 from Singapore. Just under two-fifths of the Singapore respondents are aiming for growth of more than 10 per cent for the year, compared with about a quarter of respondents globally. Another 51 per cent of Singapore respondents are targeting growth of 6 per cent to 10 per cent.
Said EY global growth markets leader Annette Kimmitt: "We are seeing a rare synchronisation of growth across all major global economies that is boosting executive confidence, particularly led by the Asia-Pacific region. For the first time, middle-market company leaders are getting ahead of change and shaping their businesses through investment, expansion and prioritisation to ride the wave of opportunity."
For Singapore respondents, the most-cited growth strategies were overseas expansion (30 per cent) and mergers and acquisitions (19 per cent). However, a quarter of respondents also plan to divest part of their business.
The most-cited main external risk was slow or flat global growth, about which more than four in 10 respondents were concerned, compared with a quarter of respondents globally. Geopolitical uncertainty, in contrast, was cited as the main risk by just 3 per cent of Singapore firms.
The EY survey also found that Singapore has the third-highest adoption rate of artificial intelligence (AI) at 9 per cent, behind China and the Netherlands, with a further 72 per cent of Singapore firms saying they plan to introduce AI in the next two years.