Foreign direct investment in Latin America and the Caribbean rose 32% in 1999, making the region the biggest recipient of overseas money among developing countries, a United Nations report said. Investment flows into the region rose to $97 billion from $73 billion in 1998, surpassing emerging markets in Asia for the first time since 1986, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development said, citing preliminary estimates. South and Southeast Asia drew $84 billion in investment, it said. "The increase is largely due to the quadrupling of foreign direct investment into Argentina to $25 billion and continued high FDI flows into Brazil," the report said. The recent recessions in the region helped spur mergers and acquisitions. Repsol, Europe's sixth-largest oil company, took over Argentina's largest oil producer, YPF, last year in a transaction worth about $15 billion, tripling its oil reserves. Inflows into Chile, Ecuador and Peru also increased, boosted by cross-border mergers and acquisitions, "Privatization-related" foreign direct investment increased in Brazil, rising to 28% of total flows from 22% in 1998, but investment in Colombia and Venezuela fell. The agency defines "foreign direct investment" as long-term investment involving management control of a company by an overseas business.