Given the precarious state of world affairs anemic
expansion in the euro zone, slowing real gross domestic product
growth in many emerging markets, political unrest in the Middle
East and other areas its hardly surprising that
multinational corporations are sitting on a massive $7 trillion
in cash, waiting for a safer set of circumstances in which to
ramp up hiring, acquiring and expanding.
Even more amazing, however, is that select company leaders
have demonstrated a willingness to do something that
doesnt come easily in strapped times: take risks. And
they are being rewarded for their courage.
Weve managed to grow when others have remained
cautious because weve been willing to experiment,
attests Martin Sorrell, chief executive officer of
WPP, the worlds largest advertising agency group, by
revenue. Weve not taken massive bets, but
weve made measured bets, and were really making
sure we think about change in a meaningful way.
That attitude helped the U.K.-based outfit expand revenue by
4.6 percent in 2014, to £11.53 billion ($17.91 billion),
despite a drag from currency exchange rates of nearly 7
percent. It also has secured WPP a spot on the 2015 All-Europe
Executive Team, Institutional Investors
exclusive annual ranking of the regions top CEOs, CFOs,
investor relations teams and IR professionals. This years
results reflect the opinions of nearly 870 buy-side analysts
and money managers at 485 firms that collectively manage an
estimated $4.5 trillion in European equities, and from 1,110
analysts from nearly 160 sell-side institutions.
A number of the companies on this years team also
appear on IIs inaugural ranking of
Europes Best Analyst Days.
Many other managers at businesses on this years team
have embraced intrepid strategies. Executives at
Reckitt Benckiser Group, for example, are honing a new
focus on consumer health, having recently spun off its
pharmaceuticals unit. This has been a conscious effort to
sharpen the companys portfolio around what we want to be
good at no, not just good at, the best at, insists
Rakesh Kapoor, CEO of the U.K.-based consumer goods giant.
5 Tips on Innovation from Europes Top
ASML Holding, the worlds largest supplier of the
photolithography machines used in the production of computer
chips, bought U.S.-based Cymer in 2013 so that the Dutch
manufacturer could expand into laser technology. As a key
supplier to the semiconductors industry, ASML must keep pace
with Moores Law named after Intel Corp. co-founder
Gordon Moore which holds that new semiconductors should
double their performance every 18 months without increasing in
price. This requires chip providers to pack more and more
transistors onto new-generation integrated circuits, calling
for smaller and smaller transistors.