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2016-01-25

Survey on major corporations by OP and the Aalto University School of Business: Heavy investments in digitisation, minor rays of light in other investments

Finland's largest companies intend to invest considerably in digitisation this
year.
They will also create more jobs and increase the use of subcontracting -
mainly outside Finland.

Some glimpses of light are offered by the survey on major Finnish
corporations, carried out now for the fourth time. The survey provides unique
insight into the views held by the top executives of Finland's largest
corporations, as most of the respondents are CEOs and CFOs of major
companies.

Particularly bright news relate to investments in digitisation, which the
survey estimates to grow this year by more than 10% from last year. Services
and manufacturing will especially focus on digitisation while retail trade
will surprisingly remain more cautious, the responses suggest.

"Increasing investments in digitisation shows how large companies are shifting
the focus of their investments from material into immaterial assets.
Digitisation has indeed raised high expectations in terms of growth and
efficiency, but the risk is that it will be considered as a magic
silver-bullet solution", saysPekka Mattila
, Professor, Aalto University School of Business, and Group Managing Director
of Aalto University Executive Education.

The annual survey of large corporations covers 250 largest Finnish companies
and it is carried out by OP Financial Group and the Nordic Institute of
Business and Society (NIBS), a think tank set up by professors of the Aalto
University School of Business.

Slight rebound expected in investments

According to the survey, particularly the companies headquartered in Finland
have improved their earnings performance and their profitability levels
already outpace those of international groups' subsidiaries in Finland.

"The responses suggest that Finnish companies have regained their spirits and
intend to clearly focus on growth-oriented development projects," says
Mattila.

Compared to last year, the surveyed companies estimated that they will reduce
their material investments, i.e. investments in, for example, sales premises
or ICT systems. By contrast, they expect to even increase their immaterial
investments - such as investments in product or service development - from
last year.

Hence, there is some optimism in investments, too.

"The survey forecasts a rebound in investments but, so far, it is just
planned, not reality. Increased efficiency but no growth bodes no good for
the future. To Finnish companies, I would say 'Go for it!' Let's start
investing and put Finland on a new growth path," saysHannu Jaatinen
, Executive Vice President, Banking at OP.

Finland's top 250 companies employ less and less people. While at the
beginning of 2013 large corporations employed almost 922,000 Finns, the
figure is only 860,000 now. The companies headquartered in Finland estimate
that their headcount will continue to decrease slightly in Finland but grow
abroad.

Intending to keep some production in Finland, the companies' subcontracting
investments will mainly be directed abroad. Almost one-third of the
responding companies plan to transfer part of their operations to foreign
countries whose legislation is more favourable to the company.

"The most important driver of employing people internationally is that growth
is considered to be more probable elsewhere. Finland is by no means
attractive from the employer's perspective. Even patriotism cannot convince
decision-makers to overlook the grim economic facts," says Mattila.

In the autumn of 2015, the OP and Aalto University survey of large
corporations received a record number of responses, as the questionnaire was
answered by 155 key executives from 109 major companies.

For more information, please contact:

Hannu Jaatinen, Executive Vice President, Banking at OP tel.
+358 (0)10 252 2874

Pekka Mattila, Professor, Aalto University School of Business, tel.
+358 (0)40 738 7221

OP Financial Group is Finland's leading financial services group providing a
unique range of banking, wealth management and insurance services. OP's
mission is to promote the sustainable prosperity, security and wellbeing of
its owner-customers, customers and operating regions. Its objective is to
offer the best and most versatile package of loyal customer benefits on the
market. OP Financial Group consists of about 180 member cooperative banks,
its central cooperative OP Cooperative, and the latter's subsidiaries and
affiliates. The Group has a staff of 12,000 and 4.3 million customers.
As laid down in the applicable law, OP Cooperative and its member credit
institutions and are ultimately jointly and severally liable for each other's
debts and commitments. Joint and several liability within OP Financial Group
is based on the Laki talletuspankkien yhteenliittymästä Act (Act on the
Amalgamation of Deposit Banks). Pohjola Bank plc and OP Mortgage Bank are
responsible for OP's funding on money and capital markets.

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This announcement is distributed by NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions on behalf of NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions clients.
The issuer of this announcement warrants that they are solely responsible for the content, accuracy and originality of the information contained therein.
Source: Pohjola Pankki Oyj via Globenewswire

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