The pandemic that has put our world a bit sideways has, as you might expect, set back our publication date. We should have paper copies of the (much anticipated) CFIUS Book: Second Edition available by mid-May 2020. However, because we have the text ready, we will publish a series of preview excerpts for your review and, of course, as teasers for the New York Review of Books.

In this excerpt we discuss a new decision that investors will face as they approach investment in the United States, whether to file a full Joint Voluntary Notice or to file a short-form Declaration, also sometimes referred to as “CFIUS Lite.”

Please don’t hesitate to reach out and tell us what you think.

— Reid Whitten
Continue Reading The CFIUS Book: Second Edition (Slight Delay)

Key Takeaways:

  • Technology Infrastructure and Data. CFIUS will focus its review on investments in critical Technology, critical Infrastructure, and sensitive personal Data (“TID Businesses”).
    • Critical technologies is defined to include certain items subject to export controls along with emerging and foundational technologies under the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.
    • CFIUS provides a very helpful list of critical infrastructure and functions to help assess whether any business is a TID Business. We reproduce most of this list at the end of this blog article. (Sneak preview: telecom, utilities, energy, and transportation dominate the list.)
    • The proposed regulations provide much-needed guidance on what constitutes sensitive personal data and also seek to limit the reach of the definition so it does not cast too wide a net over transactions in which CFIUS really should have no national security concern.
  • Exceptions for Certain Countries. Investors from certain countries may be excepted from CFIUS jurisdiction when making non-controlling investments.
  • New Set of Rules for Real Estate. In a companion piece, CFIUS proposed for the first time a detailed set of rules related to investments in real estate. We will cover this in a separate blog article to be published in the near future.
  • Expansion of Short-Form Declaration Use. The proposed rules provide parties the choice to use a short-form declaration for any transaction under CFIUS jurisdiction in lieu of a long-form notice.
  • Comments Due by October 17, 2019. Members of the public may submit comments on the proposed regulations any time between now and October 17, 2019. Final regulations must be adopted by CFIUS and become effective no later than February 13, 2020.


Continue Reading CFIUS Proposes Rules to Implement FIRRMA

This week, there were reports that the Trump Administration would use emergency powers to restrict Chinese investment in the United States. On Wednesday, the White House backed away from that position after the House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday expanding and increasing the powers of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The bill is called the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA).
Continue Reading On FIRRMA Ground: Congress to Restrict Foreign Investment and Expand Export Controls

I spent last week in Seoul talking to clients about the latest changes to U.S. trade and sanctions policy (as South Korea is one of Iran’s largest trading partners, it is understandable that some concerns have arisen there in May). Interestingly, a topic that came up often was how to reenter the North Korean market. The people with whom I spoke, in industries ranging from financial, to manufacturing, to technology, to legal, were sanguine on the possibility of a détente and the resulting opportunities for investment, growth, and profit in a reopened North Korea.
Continue Reading Your Way-Too-Early Guide to North Korean Investment: Big Opportunities, Big Risks, and the Regulatory Guidance to Identify Both

  • CFIUS takes an unprecedented step to fend off a potential foreign acquisition
  • The threat that China will eclipse the U.S. in telecommunications infrastructure and technology is central to U.S. national security
  • Five key takeaways from the most recent CFIUS action

Since late 2017, Singapore-based semiconductor company Broadcom has been pursuing a $117 billion hostile takeover bid for Qualcomm, its U.S.-based rival whose chips are omnipresent in U.S. telecommunications infrastructure, including consumer devices like smartphones and tablets. As part of its hostile bid, Broadcom nominated its own slate of six directors who were to be voted on at Qualcomm’s annual stockholders meeting, originally scheduled for March 6th. However, earlier this week the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) announced that it “issued an interim order to Qualcomm directing it to postpone its annual stockholders meeting and election of directors by 30 days. This measure will afford CFIUS the ability to investigate fully Broadcom’s proposed acquisition of Qualcomm.”
Continue Reading Chips on Their Shoulders: CFIUS Intervenes in Broadcom’s Hostile Takeover Bid for Qualcomm

The U.S. Congress is currently considering legislation that would tap the brakes on foreign direct investment in the United States, particularly on investments in sensitive industries like artificial intelligence, robotics, and semiconductors. We know: you’re saying we already have that in the form of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (known as CFIUS).
Continue Reading Seeking foreign investors for your tech startup? Congress says, “not so fast.”

CFIUS is expanding its reach. Where the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has generally scrutinized foreign acquisition of U.S. “critical infrastructure,” it has now signaled that it may look closely at any deal where the target collects or maintains sensitive personal information.
Continue Reading In-fo’ a CFIUS Review: The Expanding Power of CFIUS through Data Security Scrutiny

The other day I spoke to a colleague at the U.S. Department of the Treasury who works in the Office of Investment Security and said, “I heard CFIUS filings were going to break last year’s record total.” He just laughed. He said the OIS received one hundred and seventy-some filings in 2016, the most they had ever received in a year.

This year, only in November, they were over 225 submissions!

Of course, all of this was just talk and should not be relied on for statistical analysis. But it gives you a good idea of the flood of CFIUS filings that the Committee is now tasked with reviewing. While my contact was sanguine on the possibility of adding some new folks soon to his office soon, he noted that the OIS staff – whom he called the best of the best – has not yet been increased to meet the surge in demand.

So what does this mean for your inbound investment into the United States? We explore that question and provide a few tips below. In addition to a present snapshot of CFIUS, we have a look at the future of CFIUS as a proposed Senate bill aims to increase scrutiny on foreign investment.
Continue Reading The Waiting Game: When, Why, and How to File with CFIUS in a New Era of Investment Scrutiny

On January 10, 2017, Senate Republicans and Democrats introduced bi-partisan legislation called the “Countering Russian Hostilities Act of 2017,” which would impose broad sanctions on Russia. The Act would codify the sanctions President Obama imposed in response to the Russian cyberattack on the United States to influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and the Ukraine-related sanctions President Obama issued in 2014. Importantly, the legislation introduces beefed up economic sanctions against Russia’s energy and financial sectors.
Continue Reading The Future of Russia Sanctions: The Awkward Edition

  • A President Trump will have authority to reinstate sanctions lifted by the Iran Nuclear Deal as well as revoke certain authorizations provided for business with Iran.
  • Several economic and geopolitical factors may cause Mr. Trump to reconsider or mitigate his approach to the Iran Nuclear Deal.
  • Companies should prepare to respond quickly to any changes.

Maybe you’ve seen it before, the series of characters that represents upsetting the whole game, flipping the table:

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

These days, where words fail, we have emojis.  And here they describe what a President Trump may do to the carefully planned Iran Nuclear Deal. One year after the implementation of the Iran Nuclear Deal (much discussed, at least in our blog), Mr. Trump will take office. At that time, we will see whether his campaign rhetoric against Iran becomes policy action or whether it will be tempered by geopolitical and business realities.


Continue Reading The Table Flip: Trump, the Iran Nuclear Deal, and American Business

Article Highlights:

  • Non-U.S. banks can do business with Iran and continue their relationships with U.S. banks.
  • Non-U.S. companies may use proceeds from Iran transactions more freely, including in the United States.
  • OFAC draws a clearer line with respect to the use of Iran-related funds.

After the Iran nuclear agreement, as non-U.S. companies entered into newly-permitted business in Iran, they faced the difficult question of where they could put the money from their Iran business. U.S. law still prohibits U.S. persons (including U.S. banks) from conducting most business with Iran. Among other rules, OFAC regulations and guidance provided that “Iran-related” funds could not transit the U.S. financial system. But the guidance did not state clearly what constituted “Iran-related” funds. For that reason, foreign financial institutions (FFIs) hesitated, even feared, to process Iran-related transactions because of the risks of sending Iran-related funds into the U.S. financial system in violation of U.S. sanctions. However, a new clarification in the OFAC guidance could change all of that (and change it in the way we proposed right here in this blog[1]).


Continue Reading Those Three Little Words: OFAC’s Subtle Language Shift Could Create Sweeping Change on Iran Investment