Eighty-seven percent of nearly 300 senior financial executives believe the recession provides their company with an opportunity to gain market share, according to a new survey.

The survey, by Financial Executives International’s Financial Executives Research Foundation, commissioned by Merrill DataSite, also found that 89 percent of the financial execs are confident that their company will grow at least as fast as their industry competitors, while 68 percent predict that their company’s industry will grow at least as fast as the U.S. gross domestic product.

Some 87 percent of the respondents to the online poll see mergers and acquisitions activity as a means to grow. Only 10 percent are not considering an M&A transaction at this time.

Among anticipated deal types over next two years, M&A deals are preferred by 71 percent of the respondents. To pay for transactions, 54 percent of respondents expect to use some combination of stock, debt and cash. The most desirable acquisition structure is almost evenly split between a private company acquisition (49 percent) and a selected asset purchase (42 percent).

“Our survey reveals cautious optimism among many senior financial executives, and agreement that this could be a fertile period for deals that reinforce companies and their market position,” said FEI CEO and president Marie Hollein in a statement. “We are seeing that executives of companies who entered the recession with a strong management team and a good business model are not necessarily changing their corporate strategy significantly.”

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