MORE business leaders in Asia think their companies may not survive the coronavirus pandemic compared to other global chief executives, a new survey showed on Wednesday.

Nearly 180,000 have been killed in the pandemic, which has led to unprecedented lockdowns of major cities around the world and is expected to plunge the global economy into its worst crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s.

The latest Chief Executive Global Survey by YPO, an international group of more than 29,000 business leaders, said 15% of chief executive officers (CEO) from North and Southeast Asia reported that their businesses are under severe threat and are at risk of not surviving, compared to 11% of global CEOs.

CEOs from the mentioned Asian regions also expect a drop in revenues, with 51% saying that they expect a decline of at least 20%. Globally, 43% reported the same.

But chief executives in Asia are slightly more optimistic about the number of their employees remaining the same by next year, with 54% in North and Southeast Asia reporting this compared to 51% globally.

A quarter of global chief executives expect their employee count to fall by more than 20%, with 24% of business leaders in Asia reporting the same.

The survey conducted on April 15-19 drew insights from 3,534 chief executives from 109 countries.

YPO said the report, its second COVID-19 report following the initial March survey, was done to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of the pandemic on businesses globally, including how their perspectives have shifted over the past month.

Among the surveyed leaders, 84% said their business outlook is more negative compared to their outlook on March 1, with 56% saying that it has become significantly more negative. Only 9% said their business outlook improved.

In North and Southeast Asia, 54% said their outlook is significantly more negative since the beginning of March.

Broken down by sector, the global hospitality and restaurant industry took the biggest hit with 91% saying that their business outlook worsened significantly. This was followed by 82% in the automotive sector, 80% in aerospace/aviation, 76% in media/entertainment, 73% in wholesale sales, and 68% in real estate.

More than 60% of the chief executives expect a U-shaped curve, or a sharp recession with a longer recovery.

Almost two-thirds or 64% expect the negative effects on revenues to continue at least one year from now, while 16% expect higher revenues in a year.

“Across the globe, the mindset of the business leader is clearly that the world has changed in a very short space of time,” Scott Mordell, YPO’s chief executive, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

“We are in unchartered waters, filled with an unprecedented number of pitfalls, that are challenging some businesses’ very existence.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected the global economy would shrink by 3% this year, likely the steepest dive since the Great Depression.

As of April 22, confirmed global COVID-19 cases have exceeded 2.5 million, with 177,000 deaths from the disease and almost 600,000 recovering. — Jenina P. Ibañez with Reuters