What makes a landmark foreign investment? Is it the size of the deal or perhaps the number of jobs it will create? Or the prestige of a particular company or project? And what about the skills and technology that will be transferred? There is also the question of whether the project is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.

Amr al-Dabbagh, governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, says: “The size of the investment is important but it is not everything. As an investment promotion agency dedicated to promoting a healthy economic future, we are also looking for investments that benefit us socially, for example by creating jobs, and by increasing our technological creativity and knowledge-based resources. And we are always looking to leverage the country’s competitive advantages, as in the case of the Acetex petrochemical plant – which we believe is a precursor for things to come.”


All of the deals chosen by fDi as the Deals of the Year 2004 represent at least one of these characteristics. Seven of the deals are multibillion-dollar projects, some of which will create hundreds or even thousands of jobs. Others, like Virgin America’s decision to locate its headquarters in New York and San Francisco, are prestigious, blockbuster deals that are the envy of every development agency. And some are important because they represent a step forward in technology and skills, like Advanced Micro Devices’ expansion in Dresden, or in the type of investment, for example, Actis’s involvement in the first world-class retail centre in the Nigerian capital Lagos.

fDi would like to thank the investment promotion agencies and regional development authorities that helped trawl through hundreds of deals to find the deals of the year. The following also gave opinions and information: The South China Morning Post, China Business Review, Africa Energy, Africa Intelligence, OCO Consulting, IBM Business Consulting Services Plant Location International, Oxford Intelligence, KPMG, Ernst & Young Real Estate Advisory Services and Buck Consultants International.