Global businesses face a more unstable 2012

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The Independent Online

Political instability and economic uncertainty are set to intensify next year, hitting global firms, says the risk consultancy Control Risks.

It says international firms will also suffer from social protest and greater scrutiny of their corporate practices. Richard Fenning, the chief executive of Control Risks, urged businesses to plan for high-impact events and to develop robust strategies to deal with changing security, political, social, operational and reputational risks.

"The criticism of states and markets by people across the world is posing the first major challenge to globalisation in the 21st century," Mr Fenning said. "Companies will need to distinguish between malicious and hostile acts versus popular expressions of legitimate protest against authentic inequalities."

He expects the biggest challenge to come from cyber and information security threats. But he also sees more government intervention in business, whether through new laws or taxes.

In the emerging markets, Control Risks expects more labour unrest. It says firms should increase monitoring of social media and be more accountable to local communities and to government.