Total FDI soared by 29 per cent last year to $916 billion, the second consecutive rise, and the highest since the record year of 2000, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in World Investment Report 2006. A jump in cross-border mergers and acquisitions was largely responsible as many companies enjoyed stronger profits and more buoyant stock markets.Developed countries still attracted the majority of FDI ($542 billion), but developing nations now account for a record $334 billion and some of the highest rates of growth were recorded in West Asia (85 per cent) and Africa (78 per cent). South, East and South-East Asia also registered hefty increases. FDI out of developing or transition economies also rose by 5 per cent to $133 billion.Anne Miroux, head of the UNCTAD team that produced the report, said after its release that developing economies had strengthened their global position last year.“A number of TNCs (transnational corporations) from developing countries are emerging as major players on the world stage – and they are here to stay,” she said. “This represents a profound change in the global economy and will have substantial consequences for international economic and political relations.”The report’s authors said they expect the trend of rising investment to continue in developing countries rich in natural resources because of higher prices for many commodities.Banking, telecommunications, real estate and other services drew the greatest investment, but the natural resources sector – especially petroleum – experienced the highest rise.Introducing the report, UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi said the current growth is notable for being so broad-based, with investment inflows increasing in 126 economies.The United Kingdom was the overall largest recipient country, thanks to the merger of Royal Dutch Shell of the Netherlands and Shell Transport and Trading Company of the UK last year. The United States was second and China placed third.