In a March 25, 2020 communication, the European Commission (“EC”) issued guidance on the screening of foreign direct investments (“FDI”) in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The communication identifies an increased risk of attempts by non-EU acquirers to obtain control over suppliers of essential products, in particular healthcare sector products. The EC calls on Member States to make use of pre-existing FDI regimes, and to introduce robust screening mechanisms where they do not already exist, to protect “critical health infrastructure, supply of critical inputs, and other critical sectors.”  The communication builds on the increasing coordination among Member States that was already encouraged by the EU FDI Screening Regulation that comes into effect in October 2020.

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With a draft bill to amend the Foreign Trade and Payments Act (Außenwirtschaftsgesetz – AWG) issued on January 30, 2020, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie – BMWi) has started a legislative process to change the German foreign direct investment control regime (FDI Regime). This will be the third amendment to the FDI Regime since 2017. While the German Government continues to emphasize that Germany maintains an investment-friendly environment, these changes will further strengthen the Government’s ability to scrutinize foreign direct investments in Germany. As with earlier amendments to the FDI Regime, which all aimed to protect German and European security interests, these new changes will have a significant impact on M&A transactions in Germany.
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