Recession to end this year, but recovery starts next year, say tech CEOs

Tech and telecoms bosses are still optimistic about sales and recruitment

Those looking for the green shoots of recovery for the high-tech industry may have to wait a while yet: the recession might officially come to an end this year, but it could be 2011 before any real economic recovery begins, according to CEOs, chairmen, and finance directors of technology, media and telecoms companies.

Cobalt Corporate Finance surveyed 140 board members of high-tech companies, and found that half of the executives quizzed feel the impact of the current recession is worse than the dot-com downturn of 2000-2001 - up from 35 per cent of execs who felt the same way in last year's survey.

A lucky 30 per cent said they believe the impact of the downturn was less painful this time around, while 20 per cent said they felt it was about the same.

And while two-thirds believe the recession will technically end this year, only a third actually expect real economic recovery to begin this year, with the rest expecting it in 2011 or later.

The prolonged recession is still the highest-rated threat to the high-tech sector in 2010, although other issues worrying executives include customers taking longer to pay, and government policy.

More than 70 per cent of businesses are now looking to restructure balance sheets with additional equity and/or change their shareholder base, Cobalt said.

The survey also found nearly half of execs expect employment levels in their sector to rise this year, while only 20 per cent expect a decrease - down from more than 50 per cent this time last year.

Meanwhile, sales growth is expected by nearly three-quarters of respondents - although the optimism of last year's survey may have been misplaced when nearly 60 per cent of respondents said they were expecting growth.

By Steve Ranger

Steve Ranger is the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic. An award-winning journalist, Steve writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture, and regularly appears on TV and radio discussing tech issues. Previously he was th...