The EU Foreign Direct Investment Regulation came into force this week. It establishes a European framework for the screening of foreign investments into the European Union. In this memorandum we provide an overview of the legislation, and its expected practical impact on foreign investment review in the EU.

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Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published a final rule (the Final Rule) imposing export controls on additional emerging technologies pursuant to the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 (ECRA).[1]  We previously wrote about the process to identify and impose export controls on emerging and foundational technologies under the ECRA, as well as the steps taken in furtherance of that process to date, here.
Continue Reading BIS Imposes Export Controls on Additional Emerging Technologies; Further Defines Scope of CFIUS Mandatory Notification Requirement

On September 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) released for public inspection substantively identical notices[1] specifying the transactions relating to mobile applications TikTok and WeChat to be prohibited pursuant to the executive orders related to both entities issued by President Trump on August 6, 2020 (the TikTok Notice and the WeChat Notice, respectively, and together, the Notices).[2]  Commerce withdrew both Notices before formal publication on September 22, presumably to address uncertainty regarding the effective dates in light of developments in both matters; the TikTok Notice has already been re-issued with revised timing, but negotiations over a possible partial sale of TikTok continue.[3]  The WeChat Notice has yet to be re-issued, possibly as a result of timing uncertainty regarding the preliminary injunction discussed below.[4]
Continue Reading Commerce Provides Clarity on the Potential Scope of the TikTok and WeChat Bans; All Else Remains Murky

On September 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury published a final rule (the “Final Rule”) significantly changing the scope of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) mandatory notification requirements for foreign investments in U.S. critical technology businesses and expanding it to investments in all industries.  The Final Rule, which

On August 27, 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (the ANPRM) requesting public comment on the definition of, and criteria for identifying, “foundational” technologies[1] that are essential to U.S. national security and should be subject to more stringent export controls.[2]  The ANPRM marks another step toward implementing the long-delayed “emerging and foundational technology” provisions of the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 (ECRA).[3]  Like the earlier ANPRM regarding emerging technologies, the rulemaking is still at a conceptual stage.
Continue Reading BIS Issues Long-Awaited Request for Public Comment on Foundational Technologies

Following completion of a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”), President Trump recently issued an Executive Order requiring ByteDance to, among other things, divest itself of assets and property that enable or support operation of the TikTok application in the United States within 90 days (the “CFIUS Order”).  This was not an unexpected outcome.  We previously reported on the unusual nature of CFIUS’s review here.  The week before, President Trump issued a different Executive Order authorizing the Commerce Department to prohibit transactions involving a U.S. person or within the jurisdiction of the United States with ByteDance (the “Commerce Order”), with details of the restrictions to come in 45 days.  We previously reported on the Commerce Order here.  According to press reports, negotiations for a possible acquisition of TikTok continue, and it remains to be seen whether those restrictions will come to fruition and on what timetable.
Continue Reading President Trump Orders TikTok Divestment; Sweeping Order Appears to Indicate a Broadening of CFIUS’s Jurisdiction

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) recently released its 2019 annual report, which provides information and statistics regarding transactions reviewed by CFIUS during 2019.  CFIUS released its 2018 annual report (as well as summary data for transactions reviewed in 2019) last month, which we wrote about here.  The 2019 annual report confirms and expands on the more limited 2019 data released last month.

Key takeaways include: (i) the number of CFIUS notices has remained relatively consistent over the past three years; (ii) the percentage of notices that proceeded to a second-stage investigation decreased significantly from 69% in 2018 to 48.9% in 2019; (iii) the percentage of notices withdrawn and refiled decreased from 18.6% and 18.3% in 2017 and 2018, respectively, to 7.8% in 2019; and (iv) only 4.3% of transactions reviewed by CFIUS during 2019 were abandoned as a result of CFIUS issues, compared to 10.5% and 8.7% in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
Continue Reading CFIUS Releases 2019 Annual Report

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