Senior executives from around the world are holding off on major fund-raising plans as they wait for global economies to stabilize further, a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit for Royal Bank of Canada shows.

The study, made public on Monday, showed that only 38 percent of respondents expect to raise fresh capital in the next two years despite the gradual growth of merger and acquisition activity, private equity deals, project finance activity and initial public offerings as the financial crisis has faded.

Private equity (37 percent) and syndicated loans (35 percent) are expected to be among the most popular choices for raising debt or equity, followed by investment-grade debt (25 percent), secondary equity offering (14 percent), securitization (14 percent) and IPOs (11 percent), the study showed.

The study polled the opinions of 440 senior financial and nonfinancial executives around the world, including clients and nonclients of RBC, on their outlook for the future of capital markets. The survey was conducted between April 28 and May 25.

Executives expect economic growth to resume over the next two years but see economic uncertainty in key markets as a major risk to fund-raising activity, followed by political uncertainty and currency volatility.

Only 5 percent of respondents said new regulatory challenges were a risk to their funding plans.

Companies holding greater cash reserves, a practice once frowned upon by investors, are more valued today than they were two years ago because they are more able to mitigate the risks of extreme market conditions.

In this environment, the ability of corporates to part-fund their own transactions through cash reserves will be extremely attractive to banks, who are increasingly looking to reduce their exposure to risk, Doug Guzman, head of global investment banking at RBC Capital Markets, said of the report.

Most executives said they expected companies, especially European corporations, to increase their focus on emerging markets.

Against the backdrop of government deficits and regulatory change in the financial world, there is no doubt that the next several years will be a vitally important time for the structure and substance of credit markets, Stephen Walker, RBC Capital Markets' head of corporate and institutional banking, said in the report.

The range of funding options is likely to become narrower and more expensive as banks face higher capital and liquidity requirements. Importantly, this will come at a time when corporations are faced with increased competition for capital from banks and sovereigns.

(Reporting by Pav Jordan; editing by Peter Galloway)