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ECONOMIC upheavals in the Far East caused jitters over here when Korean firms started pulling the plug. Industrial giant Samsung (which in November announced the closure of its excavator factory in Yorkshire) cancelled a £110 million office block in London. Both Daewoo and Hyundai also warned that they were reconsidering development plans in overseas markets. One small crumb of comfort came with Japanese firm Matsushita's assurance that work on its new £15 million R&D complex in Cardiff would definitely start within 12 months.

Canary Wharf, that symbol of 1980s commercial prosperity, saw the return of the scheme's

developer, Paul Reichmann. The Canadian tycoon unveiled plans to add 100,000 sq m of office space at Canary Wharf each year up to 2004.

Another symptom of soaring activity levels in the South-East was the publication of a document

outlining plans to ship unemployed workers from the north into London to take up jobs under the government's Welfare to Work scheme.

Finally, the Private Finance Initiative came in for some hard criticism from the British Medical Association which slammed the government for letting costs on PFI hospital schemes rise by over 70 per cent during procurement.