Despite international investors’ uncertainty over emerging markets, mergers and acquisitions in Latin America were valued at a whopping $84.6 billion last year, more than doubling the $35.4 billion invested in the region in 1996, according to Securities Data.

Even during the first six months of this year the pace of M&A activity continued at a steady clip, with total deals being valued at $35.1 billion during that period.

It is perhaps not surprising that Spanish investors have been the most active acquirors in Latin America, investing $47.9 billion between 1996 and June 2, 1999. That represents 21% of all transactions during that period. No European country has invested nearly as much money as Spain has. The United Kingdom, for example, comes in a distant second with $7.2 billion invested during those two years. US companies, however, also have been very active in the region, committing almost as much money as the Spanish ($40.7 billion) between 1996 and June this year.

It is interesting to note that intra-regional activity has also picked up. M&A transactions among Latin countries hit $30 billion in 1998, up from around $15 billion in 1996. During the first quarter of this year, the region saw intra-regional mergers reach $5 billion.