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Sparked by a brisk global economy, merger mania surged to new heights last year. According to a tally by KPMG Peat Marwick, the number of cross-border acquisitions, joint ventures, and minority investments rose 20% to 5,085 in 1994. Total value of such deals, including 40 in the $1 billion-plus range, soared 46% to $239 billion.

The leading investment targets in terms of deal values were the U.S., Indonesia, and China (chart). (Indonesia snared a $40 billion investment by Ex-xon Corp.) China was second in the number of such deals, attracting 490, compared with 668 for the U.S.

Among investors, the biggest spenders were the U.S., which shelled out $87 billion, $30 billion more than it attracted, followed by Britain ($38.2 billion) and Switzerland ($16.3 billion). While U.S. companies were particularly busy in Britain, Spain, and China, their Mexican transactions fell almost in half, to $1.5 billion, while Mexican deals in the U.S. nearly tripled, to $1.4 billion.

As for industries, the top four in cross-border deals were petroleum and mining ($59.6 billion), information, communications, and entertainment ($27.8 billion), chemicals ($23 billion), and food ($14.1 billion).BY GENE KORETZ

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