The bulk of IBM’s investments were made in Asia-Pacific, where the company invested in 27 projects with a value of $829m, creating 7070 jobs.

In Western Europe, the company invested $818m, creating 966 jobs. North America saw the least expansion, with a $23m capital expenditure and only two investments made throughout the year.

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Of all the IBM projects that fDi Intelligence has tracked since 2003, almost a third were made in 2008, making last year the company’s most ambitious in terms of global reach.

French giant LVMH also had a big year of expansion, registering 50 projects around the world, which represented 40% of total investments the group has made since 2003.

Investment by the company in Asia reached $453m, which was the largest proportion of investment in any global region after Western Europe, which registered $211m.

General Electric was the third most active, with 47 projects.

But such expansion bucks a trend for caution as crossborder investment is said to have fallen by over a fifth in 2008, according to estimates from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

A number of company chief executives have publicly said that their expansion plans are currently on hold.