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Foreign direct investment reviews 2024: A global perspective

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Understanding the ever-evolving global FDI landscape is crucial amid growing regulatory complexities in cross-border transactions


Now in its eighth year of publication, White & Case's 2024 Foreign Direct Investment Reviews provides a comprehensive look at foreign direct investment (FDI) laws and regulations in more than 40 countries worldwide.

In this edition, we continue to offer key datapoints that can help inform parties and their advisors as they evaluate the new set of challenges presented by FDI screening requirements in cross-border transactions that span multiple countries.

FDI screening is continuously evolving, in fact, maturing. Stakeholders in the process, in particular FDI regulatory authorities in allied countries, are communicating and learning from each other. It is imperative to stay on top of the FDI requirements as transactions—be it mergers and acquisitions, investments, public equity offerings, debt structurings or financial restructurings—are negotiated. Understanding the potential remedies that could be required for approval and proper allocation of FDI risk are key ingredients in avoiding unpleasant surprises related to timing, certainty and business plan execution.

The number of national FDI regimes and regulatory enhancements is growing around the world, particularly in Europe, with no harmonization in terms of process and timelines. FDI regulators, at least from allied nations, are collaborating and learning from each other.

FDI regulators interpret their jurisdiction and authority broadly, especially if they believe it is in the national interest. Many regulators have "call-in," "ex officio," or "non-notified" authority. There is increasing coordination in the European Union (EU) between FDI authorities with the support of the European Commission.

Despite increased regulation, most cross-border transactions are successfully consummated, although there has been an increase in the number of cases clearing with remedies.

The origin of the investor remains a key concern for Western regulators. For example, China and Russia are included more and more in the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States' regular Q&A, asking broader and more invasive questions.

Investors conducting cross-border business need to understand FDI restrictions as they are today, and how these laws are evolving over time, to avoid disruption to realizing synergies, achieving technological development and integration, and ultimately securing liquidity.



The Canadian government continues to scrutinize foreign investments by state-owned enterprises and state-linked private investors, especially if from "non-like-minded" countries.

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FDI, whether undertaken directly or indirectly, is generally allowed without restrictions or without the need to obtain prior authorization from an administrative agency.

mexico fdi 2022

United States

Most deals are approved without mitigation, but the CFIUS landscape has continued evolving based on a combination of expanded jurisdiction, mandatory filings applying in certain cases, enhanced focus on a broad array of national security considerations, increased rates of mitigation, further attention on monitoring, compliance and enforcement, and a substantially increased pursuit of non-notified transactions.

United States of America



The European Commission continues to be a driver of FDI screening across the EU, with Member States now moving toward coordinated enforcement.

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The wide scope, low trigger thresholds and extensive interpretation of the Austrian FDI regime require a thorough assessment and proactive planning of the M&A process.

austria fdi 2022


The Belgian FDI screening regime entered into force in July 2023. In its early days, investors and authorities alike are coming to grips with the new regime and the guidelines that help parties navigate it.



A bill contemplating the creation of a foreign direct investment screening mechanism in Bulgaria is currently before the Bulgarian parliament.


Czech Republic

The new Czech Foreign Investments Screening Act took effect in May 2021, establishing the rights and duties of foreign investors and setting screening requirements for Czech targets.

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The scope of the Danish FDI regime is comprehensive and requires a careful assessment of investments and agreements involving Danish companies.

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Estonia's foreign direct investment screening mechanism entered into force on September 1, 2023.

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FDI deals are generally not blocked in Finland.



French FDI screening continues to focus on foreign investments involving medical and biotech activities, food security activities or the treatment, storage and transmission of sensitive data. The nuclear ecosystem is subject to very close scrutiny.

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Following numerous amendments over the past years, Germany's FDI review continued in full swing in 2023, with further significant updates expected in 2024.

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FDI screening in Hungary – forever changing regulation, no change in its importance.

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Ireland is expected to enact its FDI screening legislation in 2024.

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Italy's Golden Power Law is now more than 10 years old and is continuously expanding its reach.



The law in Latvia provides for sectoral FDI regimes for specific corporate M&A, real estate dealings and gambling companies.



All investments concerning national security are under the scope of review.



In 2023, Luxembourg adopted a national screening mechanism for foreign direct investments.



Malta's FDI regime regulates transactions that must be notified to the authorities and, in some cases, will be subject to screening.


Middle East

The Middle East continues to welcome foreign investment, subject to licensing approvals and ownership thresholds for certain business sectors or in certain geographical zones.

Middle East


The Netherlands, complementing its existing sector-specific regulations, has introduced a general investment screening mechanism to enhance the protection of its national security across a broader range of sectors.



The foreign direct investment regime in Norway is subject to upcoming changes, with further changes expected to come.



The Polish FDI regime – ambiguous rules, no blocking decisions and evolving market practice.



In Portugal, transactions involving acquisition of control over strategic assets by entities residing outside the EU or the EEA may be subject to FDI screening.



The Romanian regime regarding foreign direct investment appears to have become more stable in 2023, but continues to surprise.


Russian Federation

Russian laws regulating foreign investments have been considerably amended in 2023 to extend the scope of the laws as well as to strengthen control in this sphere.

Russian Federation


The new Foreign Investments Screening Act entered into force in Slovakia on March 1, 2023.



Since May 31, 2020, certain foreign investments into Slovenian companies can be subject to foreign direct investments review. Incorporation of new companies and business units can also be screened.



Certain foreign direct investments in Spain are subject to scrutiny under the Law 19/2003 (Law on the movement of capital and foreign economic transactions and on certain measures for the prevention of money laundering). These restrictions started back in 2020 and, since then, additional formalities have been introduced, specifically by the new FDI regulation, which entered into force on September 1, 2023.



In December 2023, Sweden adopted and implemented a new FDI regime, meaning that a general FDI screening mechanism now applies in relation to investments in certain Swedish businesses.



Historically, Switzerland has been very liberal regarding foreign investments. However, there has recently been increased political pressure to create a more structured legal regime for foreign investment.



Making Türkiye an attractive investment destination continues to be a priority for the government.


United Arab Emirates

Foreign direct investment is permissible in the UAE, subject to applicable licensing and ownership conditions.


United Kingdom

The UK introduced new legislation governing FDI in 2022, which also captures domestic investment in certain sectors.




Australia's stringent foreign investment regulations, overseen by the Treasurer and FIRB, safeguard national interests and security. The framework, including the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 and recent updates like the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement, emphasizes transparency and accountability, with new penalties and registration requirements enhancing oversight and compliance.



While restricting the data transfer relating to national security, China issued guidelines to further optimize its foreign investment environment. 



India continues to be an attractive destination for foreign investment, ranking as the world's eighth-largest recipient of FDI in 2023.



Certain businesses related to "Specifically Designated Critical Commodities" have been designated "core" sectors subject to Japan's FDI regime, FEFTA.


Republic of Korea

The Republic of Korea continues to welcome foreign investment, with the government actively seeking to ease regulations and update the regulatory framework to be in line with global standards.


New Zealand

After a number of years of amendments under the OIA from 2018 to 2021, New Zealand has seen a period of stabilization of the overseas investment regime. However, following the recent election and change of government in New Zealand, further changes are expected to better support investments in build-to-rent housing developments.

New Zealand


Taiwan continues to promote FDI under a two-track screening mechanism for foreign and PRC investors.


Foreign direct investment reviews 2024: Austria

The wide scope, low trigger thresholds and extensive interpretation of the Austrian FDI regime require a thorough assessment and proactive planning of the M&A process.


10 min read

Johannes Barbist and Regina Kröll (Binder Grösswang) authored this publication

The Austrian Investment Control Act (Investitionskontrollgesetz, ICA) entered into force on July 25, 2020 and applies to foreign direct investments. Proceedings under the ICA are administered by the Austrian Federal Minister for Labor and Economy (Bundesminister für Arbeit und Wirtschaft, BMAW).

Summary of major changes in 2023

  • The BMAW has made available the updated Form B (request for information from the investor for the purposes of notifications pursuant to Article 6 of Regulation (EU) 2019/452) on BMAW Investment Control
  • No changes were made to the ICA in the course of 2023

Who files?

The Austrian FDI regime applies to both natural and legal persons who are not citizens of, or do not have their seat or headquarters in, the EU, the EEA or Switzerland (foreign investors).

The primary responsibility to submit an application for clearance under the ICA rests with the acquirer. In order to determine whether an investor would qualify as "foreign" within the meaning of the ICA, the BMAW looks beyond the direct acquirer and its ultimate beneficial owner (UBO). Any non-EU, non-EEA or non-Swiss entities or persons in the vertical chain may result in the investor being deemed a foreign investor. In other words, while the direct acquirer may not be considered foreign because it is EU, EEA or Switzerland-based, a foreign investment may still occur where an entity at any level in the ownership structure or the UBO is a non-EU, non-EEA or non-Swiss entity or person.

In order to submit a filing and for formal communication with the BMAW, a foreign investor must notify an authorized recipient in Austria.

The Austrian target has a separate obligation to notify the BMAW if the investor does not submit an application for FDI approval.

Types of deals reviewed

For an investment to trigger Austrian FDI control, referred to as a "relevant investment," the following conditions all have to be met.

Firstly, the investment is made by a foreign investor. There is no broad exemption for companies that are publicly listed in the EU, EEA or Switzerland. Based on a decision by the BMAW, the (many) foreign shareholders of a publicly listed company need not be taken into account provided that such foreign shareholders do not play any active role whatsoever in the transaction and have not entered into any kind of agreement on a shareholder level that points toward a joint acquisition of the Austrian target or a joint exercise of voting rights (directly or indirectly) over the Austrian target.

The target must be a company or business in Austria pursuing a commercial activity that may pose a threat to security or public order, including crisis prevention and services of public interest, within the meaning of Article 52 and 65 TFEU.

Additionally, the investment must concern the direct or indirect acquisition of an Austrian business or legal entity; material parts of an Austrian business resulting in the acquisition of a controlling influence over such parts of an Austrian business; a shareholding with which at least 10 percent of the voting rights (if the target is active in a highly sensitive sector) or 25 percent of the voting rights (if the target is active in a "normal" sensitive sector) is reached or exceeded; and there must be controlling influence over an Austrian business or legal entity.

The ICA does not apply to greenfield investments or the acquisition of mere branch offices or (material) parts thereof—see the BMAW's FAQs for more.

Furthermore, clearance under the ICA is not required if the target is a micro-enterprise (de minimis rule). A micro-enterprise is defined as an enterprise that employs fewer than ten persons, and whose annual turnover and/or annual balance sheet total does not exceed the threshold of Є2 million.

Scope of the review

The scope of the Austrian FDI regime is very wide, and its interpretation by the BMAW arguably even wider, in particular in regard to the sectors considered sensitive.

In its Annex, the ICA distinguishes between particularly sensitive sectors as set out in part 1 of the Annex to the ICA, and normal sensitive sectors, set out in part 2 of the Annex.

Particularly sensitive sectors include defense goods and technologies; operation of critical energy infrastructure; and operation of critical digital infrastructure, in particular 5G infrastructure, water, research and development in regard to medicinal products, vaccines, medical devices and personal protective equipment.

If an investment concerns a particularly sensitive sector, the relevant threshold of voting shares is 10 per-cent.

Normal sensitive sectors include critical infrastructure, including information technology, health, data processing and storage; critical technologies and dual-use goods, including artificial intelligence, robotics, semiconductors, security of supply of critical resources, including energy supply and food supply; and access to and the ability to control sensitive information, including personal data. If an investment concerns a normal sensitive sector, the relevant threshold of voting shares is 25 percent.

While the term "critical infrastructures, technologies and resources" is defined in the Annex to the ICA, the sectors explicitly listed in the Annex within the respective category of critical infrastructures, critical technologies or critical resources are per se considered to be critical. The degree of criticality is therefore not part of the jurisdictional assessment as to whether an investment is notifiable to the BMAW.

Whether an investment may pose a risk to security or public order is part of the material assessment of the BMAW. In assessing this risk, the BMAW mainly focuses on the following two factors.

The first is investor-related—whether the foreign investor is directly or indirectly controlled by the government, including state bodies or armed forces of a third country, including through ownership structure or significant funding; whether the foreign investor has already been involved in activities affecting security or public order in an EU member state; or whether there is a serious risk that the foreign investor engages in illegal or criminal activities.

The second factor is the effect of the investment in the sectors listed in the Annex on the ICA. In this context, the BMAW looks at the nature and scope of the Austrian target's activities, including the products and/or services offered, the position on the market, customers, competitors and substitute products.

The BMAW's material assessment is not limited to key national security sectors—for example defense or energy—but has a much broader focus, taking into consideration security of supply in a wide variety of sectors. Due to the long list of sensitive sectors and the broad categories, a vast number of investments is subject to the ICA and subject to a requirement to submit an application for approval.

Internal restructurings are not exempted and therefore in principle caught by the ICA.

A notifiable relevant investment may only be implemented following approval by the BMAW. As long as FDI clearance has not been granted, a notifiable relevant investment (the underlying transaction agreement) is deemed to have been concluded subject to the condition precedent that approval is granted.

A notifiable relevant investment that is carried out without FDI clearance is void under civil law until FDI clearance has been obtained.

If the BMAW becomes aware of a notifiable relevant investment for which the foreign investor has not applied for FDI approval, the foreign investor is requested to submit an application within three business days from receiving notice from the BMAW. If no such application is submitted on time, the BMAW has to initiate an official approval procedure on its own account and inform the foreign investor accordingly. The BMAW often consults the Austrian target to check the relevance and notifiability of a transaction under the Austrian FDI regime.

Under the ICA, the following outcomes are conceivable. In phase 1, there could be a decree that no approval procedure will be initiated because such procedure would be contrary to obligations under EU or public international law; a decree clearing the transaction; or approval by operation of law (legal fiction) in phase 1 after expiry of the one-month period (national level).

In phase 2, the possible outcomes are a decree clearing the transaction; a decree clearing the transaction subject to commitments—the BMAW may impose commitments unilaterally; a decree prohibiting the transaction; or approval by operation of law (legal fiction) in phase 2 after expiry of the two-month period (national level).

Review process timeline

FDI proceedings in Austria take on average two-and-a-half to three months and may take up to five-and-a-half to six months.

Under the Austrian FDI regime, the EU cooperation mechanism is a mandatory step before national proceedings are initiated. Phase 0 takes 35 calendar days on average, but may take considerably longer in case of comments and/or questions from the European Commission or other Member States, which stop the clock. This does not include the time the BMAW takes for notifying the European Commission that a foreign direct investment within the meaning of the ICA is being made in Austria, which may take up to ten business days.

Phase 1 (national proceedings) takes one month and starts upon conclusion of the EU cooperation mechanism.

Phase 2 (in-depth examination) takes two months. Phase 2 proceedings are only initiated where the BMAW sees the need for further clarification or has substantive concerns.

Requests for information in phase 1 and phase 2 do not stop the clock. Usually, the BMAW uses the review periods (close) to the maximum allowed.

How foreign investors can protect themselves

Foreign investors should start to think about FDI early on in the transaction planning process, and check whether the Austrian target is a branch office or qualifies as a micro-enterprise and may hence be excluded from Austrian FDI review.

They should perform a thorough case-by-case assessment of the FDI risk in Austria. The BMAW's decisions are not published and no guidance on the interpretation or implementation of the ICA is publicly available. Furthermore, there is no formal pre-screening option available, for example to determine whether the activities of an Austrian target company are sensitive within the meaning of the ICA.

While the BMAW is generally quite forthcoming and very responsive, the authority holds that any alignment before submission of the application is not "necessary or advisable" (see FAQs). A case-by-case analysis, which also takes the BMAW's administrative practice into account, is therefore crucial.

Investors should pay attention to internal restructurings. Internal restructurings are not exempted under the ICA and may therefore be notifiable. So far, no clear pattern of non-notifiable internal restructurings has emerged based on the BMAW's administrative practice.

They should bear in mind that it is currently not clear whether assets of an Austrian company located outside of Austria come within the ambit of the Austrian FDI regime.

The "domino effect" should be considered. FDI authorities across the EU obtain information about (planned) investments out of the EU cooperation mechanism and from other (public) sources, such as websites of merger control authorities. Some Member States, including Austria, submit every application to the EU cooperation mechanism. A multijurisdictional FDI analysis and filing strategy is key.

Investors should also factor in the FDI risk—a prohibition and/or the imposition of (economically) unfavorable commitments in the contractual framework (CP, long-stop date).

"Looking ahead": Likely developments in next year

Currently, no major changes to the ICA are planned for the near future. However, against the background of the constantly emerging investment screening landscape, the Austrian legislator may be expected to consider a clarification of the scope of sensitive sectors, the treatment of research cooperations under the ICA, and whether the Austrian FDI-regime should cover greenfield investments.

The legislator may also consider a clarification of the concept of control: The concept of control as set out in the EU Merger Regulation is used as a first point of reference for the purpose of FDI screening in Austria. However, the term control within the meaning of the ICA may, in the view of the BMAW, go well beyond that. A clarification of the term is desirable.

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This article is prepared for the general information of interested persons. It is not, and does not attempt to be, comprehensive in nature. Due to the general nature of its content, it should not be regarded as legal advice.

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