Boosted by government privatizations, mergers and acquisitions in Latin America soared to a record $81 billion last year as bigger and bigger transactions came onto the market, according to J.P. Morgan & Co.

"The year 1998 was clearly one for blockbuster transactions," a report from Morgan says. The company noted that 15 of the deals exceeded $1 billion, accounting for more than $35 billion of the total.

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