Last night, President Trump issued two Executive Orders establishing a framework for prohibiting transactions involving popular Chinese-owned communications apps WeChat and TikTok.[1]  Contrary to some press reports, the Executive Orders do not prohibit all transactions with their respective parent companies; they do not in fact set out the scope of the restrictions.  Rather, they give the Commerce Department authority to prohibit any transaction involving a U.S. person or within the jurisdiction of the United States involving the two services; each of the Executive Orders clearly states “45 days after the date of this order, the Secretary shall identify the transactions subject to subsection (a) of this section [which contains the broad authority to prohibit].”[2]  Furthermore, the scope of Commerce’s authority is subtly (and no doubt intentionally) different in the two Executive Orders: with respect to TikTok, the authority covers any transaction with ByteDance, TikTok’s parent; with respect to WeChat, the authority covers any transaction relating to WeChat involving its parent, Tencent Holding.  Commerce will, within 45 days, take further action specifying exactly which transactions will be prohibited; it is even possible, particularly with respect to TikTok if the mooted divestiture of U.S. operations occurs, that no restrictions will be imposed.[3]  Unless and until Commerce implements the Executive Orders, no restrictions are in place and their precise future scope is unknown.
Continue Reading President Trump Authorizes Restrictions on WeChat and TikTok; Details to Come

On July 23, 2020, the Government published a Decree no. 2020-892 (the “Decree”)[1] and a Ministerial Order (the “Ministerial Order”)[2] both of July 22, 2020 on the temporary lowering of the threshold triggering control of foreign investments in French listed companies.  The Decree aims to temporarily reduce the threshold triggering review of non-EU/EEA investments when targeting French listed companies in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.  As explained by the French Minister for the Economy, “[w]hile most foreign investment transactions are opportunities for French companies, the volatility of financial markets and the very sharp decline in the valuations of a large number of companies make them particularly vulnerable to potential unfriendly transactions, which calls for increased vigilance ».[3]
Continue Reading France Foreign Investment Control – New Rules Temporarily Applicable to non-EU/EEA Investments Enter Into Force Today

Initial press reports last November that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) had commenced a review of ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly, the service that was merged into ByteDance’s video-sharing site TikTok and helped fuel its expansion, were not particularly surprising to those familiar with CFIUS and its concerns.  However, recent departures from established CFIUS processes in the TikTok matter are striking and concerning for persons engaging in cross-border transactions involving the United States, calling into question the scope, apolitical nature, confidentiality, and security focus of the CFIUS process.
Continue Reading TikTok: Familiar Issues, Unfamiliar Responses

Over the last few weeks, there has been a flurry of activity at the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).  In addition to imposing filing fees, which we wrote about here, and issuing proposed amendments to broaden the mandatory CFIUS notification requirements, which we wrote about here, CFIUS recently blocked a robotics joint venture in China with no U.S. assets and limited to operations outside the United States, released detailed information regarding the transactions reviewed by CFIUS during 2018 (as well as summary data for transactions reviewed in 2019), and announced a new electronic filing system.
Continue Reading CFIUS Blocks Joint Venture Outside the United States, Releases 2018-2019 Data, and Goes Electronic

On May 21, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury published a proposed rule (the “Proposed Rule”) that would significantly broaden the scope of mandatory filing requirements of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) for foreign investments involving U.S. critical technology businesses.

The Proposed Rule abandons the current restriction to specified

On May 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued an interim final rule (the Interim Rule) amending the direct product rule under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to further restrict Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (Huawei) and its affiliates designated on the Entity List from receiving semiconductor and other products produced outside the United States using U.S.-origin software and technology.  The changes, which are effective immediately (but subject to two savings clauses), could have a significant impact on the ability of non-U.S. foundries that manufacture semiconductor products for Huawei and its affiliates (e.g., HiSilicon) using U.S.-origin software or technology to continue to do so (and could have a corresponding significant impact on the competitiveness of U.S. semiconductor manufacturing equipment and software).  BIS also extended the temporary general license (TGL) that authorizes certain activities subject to the EAR involving Huawei and its affiliates through August 13, 2020.[1]
Continue Reading BIS Expands Export Restrictions on Huawei, Extends Temporary General License

The COVID-19 pandemic has created market conditions ripe for increased cross border investment as businesses scramble for capital and investors target distressed assets.  The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is focused on the trend.  Senior Department of Defense officials have recently and repeatedly stressed the need for the active

Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) published an interim rule (the “Interim Rule”) implementing the filing fee provisions of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (“FIRRMA”) along the lines set out in Treasury’s proposal of March 9. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States

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.

Continue Reading European Commission Urges Member States to Protect Suppliers of Essential Products from Foreign Takeovers

On March 25, the European Commission issued guidance on the screening of foreign direct investment in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission calls Member States to make use of existing FDI regimes to protect critical health infrastructure, supply of critical inputs, and other critical sectors. Further details can be found in our memorandum,