Beginning on May 1, 2020, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) will require a fee for any joint voluntary notice of a “covered transaction” or “covered real estate transaction.” This requirement also applies to (i) voluntary notices filed after CFIUS has completed its assessment of a declaration, (ii) voluntary notices filed for transactions subject to mandatory declarations, and (iii) voluntary notices filed in lieu of a declaration when the transaction is not subject to a mandatory declaration. There is no fee to submit a declaration with CFIUS or if CFIUS initiates a unilateral review. Continue reading →
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic turmoil have the potential to shake up the U.S. real estate market due to an anticipated influx of real estate investors looking to purchase heavily discounted, distressed assets and an expected increase in real estate foreclosures. Non-U.S. real estate lenders and investors need to be aware of the potential that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) may have jurisdiction to review, and potentially disallow certain investments in real estate and mortgage default remedies where foreign persons are involved.
On March 6, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order (EO) instructing the Chinese company Beijing Shiji Information Technology Co. Ltd. (Shiji) to divest its acquisition of StayNTouch Inc., a U.S.-based software company providing management systems to hotels. Pursuant to the EO, Shiji is required to fully divest its interest in StayNTouch within 120 days, with the possibility of a 90-day extension. The President determined that there was “credible evidence” that Shiji, through its acquisition of StayNTouch, “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.” The EO does not specify CFIUS’s particular concerns but it appears that StayNTouch’s platform could provide Shiji with access to a large database of personal and financial information of its users.
On March 5, 2020, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a proposed rule establishing filing fees for parties submitting a voluntary notice to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) for “covered transactions” under Part 800 (which includes covered investments) and “covered real estate” under Part 802. The proposed rule implements the filing fee provision contained in section 1723 of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA).
On September 17, 2019, the U.S. Department of Treasury issued two new proposed rules for the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) implementing the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA), which was enacted in August 2018. The first proposed rule covers, among other things, FIRRMA’s expansion of CFIUS’ jurisdiction to non-controlling investments in U.S. businesses engaged in critical technology, critical infrastructure and sensitive personal data. The second proposed rule addresses FIRRMA’s expansion of CFIUS’ jurisdiction over certain real estate transactions.
On November 19, 2018, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued a proposed rulemaking seeking public comment on criteria for identifying emerging technologies that are essential to U.S. national security.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury issued temporary regulations establishing a partial pilot program implementing two key changes to the jurisdiction and review of transactions by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The pilot program (1) expands the scope of transactions subject to review by CFIUS to include certain “other investments” involving foreign persons and critical technologies (though not critical infrastructure or companies with personal identifier information); and (2) makes effective a mandatory declaration provision for all transactions that fall within the specific scope of the pilot program. The pilot program will largely impact investments in companies involved in critical technologies pertaining to a specified list of industries by NAICS code, including the aircraft, semiconductor, nuclear, and telecommunications sectors. It also makes filing declarations a mandatory requirement for covered transactions involving these companies, which include acquisitions of control as well as non-controlling investments (including investments of less than 10%) that afford the foreign investor certain rights.
Importantly, the pilot program will commence on November 10, 2018 and will apply on a global basis (i.e., there is no country exemption at this time). The pilot program will not apply to transactions completed prior to November 10 or to transactions for which the parties have executed a binding written agreement or other document establishing the material terms of the transaction prior to October 11, 2018.
House and Senate negotiators have agreed on proposed reforms to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) foreign investment review process, which has been added as Title XVII of the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The final bill makes a number of changes intended to improve the efficiency of national security reviews and investigations, although a significant increase in staff and funding will be required in order to handle the increased caseload. Importantly, outbound technology transfers in the context of joint ventures and other collaborative arrangements will not be added to the “covered transaction” definition, but will instead be addressed by U.S. export controls.
Recently, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 5515 (NDAA). The Senate version contains several differences from the NDAA as passed by the House, and these discrepancies must now be resolved through a joint conference committee. Notably, the Senate attached to the NDAA its proposed Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA), which would update and alter the CFIUS review process. The House had not attached its CFIUS reform bill, H.R. 5841, but recently passed this bill as a standalone piece of legislation. Both bills would expand CFIUS jurisdiction to include certain types of non-controlling investments, affecting foreign investors in U.S. businesses. However, impacts would vary depending on whether the investor is from a country of special concern or an allied nation.
While there are also commonalities, important differences between the Senate and House proposed CFIUS reform legislation are described below.
There are several legislative proposals pending in Congress targeting trade and investment involving China. If enacted, the proposals would prevent Chinese entities from acquiring certain U.S. technologies, prohibit U.S. government procurement from ZTE and Huawei, and limit U.S. issuers from receiving investments from Chinese parties.