Public interest scrutiny in the M&A process is on the increase globally, against the backdrop of amplified protectionist rhetoric and political anxieties about the impact of foreign direct investment (FDI). The economic fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating existing trends, as governments seek to protect businesses from opportunistic acquisition by foreign buyers, including by extending the scope of FDI regimes. This presents additional hurdles and uncertainties to navigate in cross-border M&A.
From CFIUS in the United States to FIRB in Australia, it is essential that formal and informal FDI/public interest review processes and intervention risks are taken into account in deal planning and execution. Although certain acquirers from China have tended to bear the brunt of prohibition decisions under FDI regimes in the past, they are no longer the sole focus and acquirers from a range of countries have had their deals scrutinised. In addition, the concept of “national security” continues to be extended, to include not only the defence sector and critical infrastructure, but also communications assets, advanced technology and data, and – influenced by the pandemic – healthcare. Whilst some of the amendments directly related to the pandemic may ultimately prove to be temporary, the overall picture is likely to be one of structural change.
Our global team (drawn from our Competition, Regulation and Trade, Mergers & Acquisitions and Dispute Resolution practices) has extensive experience in formulating and implementing coordinated strategies to secure global clearances and successful completion, taking the ever-changing landscape into account.
To aid investors in considering potential deal hotspots, we have produced an interactive map and country-by-country guide summarising the FDI/public interest control processes and trends in key jurisdictions. Click here for a teaser of the guide and email FDIPublications@hsf.com to receive your full copy.
In the FDI notification of the sale of Società Gasdotti Italia, the second largest Italian gas transportation operator, to Macquarie and Swiss Life
On the sale of a minority stake in Iberfrasa to a Government owned investment company owned by the Queensland Government (Australia)
Associated British Foods
On a proposed 50:50 joint venture with another Asian leading food company in China to create a key player in the bakery ingredients sector in China, leveraging both parties' strengths and resources
Represented and secured CFIUS clearance for CSLI, a South Korean language translation software provider in connection with its acquisition of Systran SA
In relation to a number of FIRB applications in relation to assets acquired after the China Resources investment (as a result of which GenesisCare became a ‘foreign government investor’ for relevant regulatory purposes)
Gardner Denver Holdings
In relation to its French FDI filing with the French Ministry of Economy following its announced merger with Ingersoll-Rand's (an NYSE listed company) industrial operations division
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Nanda is the Head of Corporate, China. She has extensive experience in advising clients on doing business in China and cross-border transactions with a China element, and also leads our Shanghai office.
Kyriakos is the Brussels Office Managing Partner and EMEA Regional Head of Practice for Competition, Regulation and Trade and deals with all aspects of European Union and United Kingdom competition law.