Around 18 per cent favoured the UK, compared with 17 per cent preferring Germany, according to the UPS Europe Business Monitor, which questioned 1,490 directors in seven European countries.
The vote is a striking reversal of last year, when Britain was voted the least attractive location. Moreover, opinions on Germany were split, with 19 per cent ranking it the worst location.
The survey also showed a surge in confidence in the UK economy, with 43 per cent expecting the UK to have the strongest growth over the next three years, second only to Germany. This fitted in with the views of British companies, which were the most optimistic.
More than three-quarters of British business leaders said they thought their company would be in a better position in 12 months, a rise of 17 percentage points on last year. The tone across Europe as a whole was also more positive, with 56 per cent of those surveyed saying things would improve for their group. However, the groups involved, selected from Europe's top 15,000 companies by revenue with an average turnover of dollars 1.7bn, remained gloomy about unemployment.
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