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Greenville Business Magazine

The Business Narrative: Looking Ahead.

Jan 04, 2023 10:30AM ● By David Dykes

2023 CFO Outlook: Weak Growth; Wages Trail Inflation

U.S. financial executives are generally pessimistic about next year’s economy, saying they expect price growth to subside some in 2023 but still remain high.

They also report that wages at their firms have not kept pace with inflation, according to The CFO Survey, a collaboration between Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the Federal Reserve Banks of Richmond and Atlanta.

The survey, which closed Dec. 2, found that CFOs’ median expectation is for input costs and product prices to increase by 5 and 4 percent, respectively, in 2023.

Most companies reported including a cost-of-living adjustment in the wages they pay their own employees.

Recently, however, total wage adjustments averaged about two percentage points below 2022 growth in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Among companies that include an explicit cost-of-living adjustment to wages, this adjustment will average 3.3 percent, in addition to merit increases.

“A 3.3 percent inflation adjustment suggests that CFOs expect price pressures to soften somewhat in 2023, but remain above pre-pandemic inflation levels,” said Fuqua professor John Graham, academic director of the survey. 

“Inflation remains the top worry of CFOs, alongside availability and quality of labor, followed by tightening monetary policy. This list of challenges is causing CFOs to be pessimistic about the overall economy in 2023.”

CFO optimism about the U.S. economy remains at 53 on a scale of 0 to 100, the same as last quarter but well below the historic average of about 60.

And CFOs expect real GDP to grow by only 0.7 percent in 2023, with 31 percent of CFOs expecting negative real growth.

Also, CFOs anticipate their companies’ revenues to grow by only 5 percent in 2023, which is down from last quarter’s 2023 forecast and also less than anticipated 2022 revenue growth.

About two-thirds of CFOs report that current interest rates have not affected their capital expenditures or non-capital spending plans, while about 30 percent say that rates have already dampened spending plans.

Nearly 40 percent say they either have already curtailed spending plans or would curtail spending should interest rates increase by another two percentage points.

The latest survey, as well as historical data and commentary, can be found at

First Bancorp Completes Acquisition Of GrandSouth Bancorporation

First Bancorp (NASDAQ: FBNC) announced the completion of its acquisition of Greenville, S.C.-based GrandSouth Bancorporation, parent company of GrandSouth Bank, on Jan. 1, 2023. 

Company officials said the merger solidifies First Bank's position as one of the leading banks headquartered in the Carolinas, with total assets of approximately $12 billion and 118 branches.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, GrandSouth shareholders will receive 0.91 shares of First Bancorp common stock for each share of GrandSouth common and preferred stock.

Any fractional shares resulting from the exchange will be paid cash at a rate of $38.98 per share.

Shareholders of GrandSouth who own their shares of stock in book entry form or hold their shares with brokers will have their shares automatically converted to shares of First Bancorp, with no action required. 

Shareholders who hold stock certificates of GrandSouth will be mailed instructions for converting their shares of GrandSouth to First Bancorp stock.

Also, under the merger agreement, GrandSouth's subsidiary bank, GrandSouth Bank, has merged with and into First Bancorp's subsidiary bank, First Bank.

First Bank will continue to operate the eight branches of GrandSouth Bank under the GrandSouth Bank name until a systems conversion planned for mid-March 2023. 

First Bank is the banking subsidiary of First Bancorp and is headquartered in Southern Pines, N.C., with total assets of approximately $12 billion.

As a state-chartered community bank, First Bank operates 118 bank branches in North Carolina and South Carolina. 

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc. served as financial advisor to First Bancorp and Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP provided legal counsel. 

Piper Sandler & Co. served as financial advisor to GrandSouth and Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP served as legal counsel.

Tech firm Kopis Acquires Intelice's ERP Group

Kopis, a Greenville, S.C.-based tech firm specializing in enterprise-level app development and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) services, has purchased Intelice's ERP Group.

The deal was effective as of Dec. 1, 2022.

Kopis forecasts revenue growth of 33 percent heading into 2023 as a result of the acquisition. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. 

In addition to its leading Managed Services practice, Intelice's ERP practice, with offices in the Washington, D.C. area, specializes in cloud and on-premise ERP services that utilize the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central/NAV platform.

ERP is a software system that automates and manages core business functions by linking a company's financials, supply chain, operations, commerce, and reporting activities on a single platform to ensure intra-system integration.

The acquired Intelice division works with over 50 clients with a specialty in the nonprofit sector. 

Sonoco Ranked “Gold” by EcoVadis in 2022 For Second Consecutive Year

For the second year in a row, Hartsville, S.C.-based Sonoco (NYSE: SON) earned a Gold Medal rating from EcoVadis, a leading environmental, social and ethical review agency for global supply chains.

Company officials said the result placed Sonoco among the top 5 percent of more than 100,000 organizations reviewed worldwide.

“In a world where sustainable business practices are increasingly important to consumer and industrial markets, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to corporate responsibility, implementing policies and procedures geared toward building a healthier planet and future,” said Sonoco Vice President of Environmental, Sustainability, & Technical Services Elizabeth Rhue.

The EcoVadis Gold rating is just one award and/or recognition for Sonoco’s sustainable packaging practices. 

The company has been included on Barron's ‘100 Most Sustainable Companies’ list four years in a row and in 2022, the company ranked first in the Packaging Sector on Fortune's World's Most Admired Companies, as well as number one for Innovation and Quality of Products/Services. Learn more at

Founded in 1899, Sonoco (NYSE:SON) is a global provider of packaging products. 

With net sales of approximately $5.6 billion in 2021, the company has approximately 22,000 employees working in more than 300 operations around the world, serving some of the world’s best-known brands. 

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