Our thinking

Foreign direct investment reviews 2024: A global perspective

What's inside

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.

canada fdi 2022


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.

european union fdi 2022


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.

czech republic fdi 2022


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

denmark fdi 2022


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

estonia fdi 2022


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.

france fdi 2022


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

germany fdi 2022


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

hungary fdi 2022


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

ireland fdi 2022


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: Hungary

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


10 min read

Iván Sólyom and Soma Schóber (Lakatos, Köves és Társai Ügyvédi Iroda) authored this publication

Hungary still has its former FDI regulation structure, which means that it has two separate FDI regimes in force. The first regime, the so-called "General FDI Regime" focuses on a narrower scope and covers only sectors closely related to national security and public utility services, while the second FDI regime, the "New FDI Regime" covers a much wider part of the economy and affects more deals in general.

Although the New and the General FDI Regimes are regulated in separate pieces of legislation, the subject matter (FDI screening) is similar, and so their main logic is the same, focusing on the origin of the investor and the activities of the Hungarian target companies.

Summary of major changes in 2023/2024

  • As of June 1, 2023, the General Regime is not applicable to investors who are registered in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, and has no majority owners and beneficial owners from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland
  • In case of investments where the value reaches or exceeds HUF 350 million (€930,000), the triggering amount of acquired ownership interest under the New Regime has been reduced to 5 percent, and to 3 percent for publicly listed companies in case of non-EU/non-EEA investors
  • The lowest limit of the general triggering ownership interest amount under the New FDI Regime has also been reduced and now notification shall be made regardless of the transaction value if the ownership amount acquired by the foreign investor reaches 10 percent
  • The personal scope of the New FDI Regime has narrowed in some respects, as in certain transaction types only such entities/persons shall make notification who are from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland—this means that entities who are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland shall not make a notification in these cases, even if their owners are from outside these regions
  • The financial sector, including companies providing financial intermediation services, insurance, reinsurance and pension funds are now covered under the New Regime
  • FDI notifications under the New FDI regime are reviewed and acknowledged by the Minister of National Economy
  • the Hungarian State has been granted with a new pre-emption right in case of transactions affecting companies active in power generation with solar power plants

Who files?

In case of both regimes, the foreign investor shall make the FDI notification to the competent minister. However, the definition of foreign investor under the two regimes differ.

Under the General FDI Regime, any natural person or legal entity qualifies as a foreign investor if it is: a citizen of or registered in a country outside of the EU, EEA or Switzerland; or a legal entity registered in the EU, EEA or Switzerland but controlled by a non-EU/EEA/Swiss person or entity.

According to the New FDI Regime, foreign investors are those natural or legal persons or organizations that are citizens of or registered in a country which is outside of the EU, EEA or Switzerland; or legal entities registered in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, if they are under the majority control of natural or legal persons or organizations that are citizens of or registered in a country that is outside of the EU, EEA or Switzerland.

The New FDI Regime also applies to EU/EEA/Swiss investors—both natural and legal persons—if they acquire majority control and the investment exceeds HUF 350 million.

Types of deals reviewed

Under the General FDI Regime, a number of transaction types are covered.

The deal will be reviewed if a foreign investor establishes a new Hungarian company or acquires more than 25 percent ownership interest in an existing Hungarian privately held company (or 10 per- cent in publicly listed companies), or acquires a "dominant influence" in such a company.

The regime also applies when a foreign investor acquires equity of less than 25 percent in a privately held company registered in Hungary, but the total equity held by foreign investors exceeds 25 percent as a result.

Transactions will also be reviewed where a company registered in Hungary in which foreign investors hold equity equivalent to that set out above takes up a listed strategic activity.

Other covered transactions include where a foreign investor registers a branch office in Hungary for the purpose of carrying out listed strategic activities, or where a foreign investor acquires a right to operate or use infrastructure or assets that are indispensable for carrying out listed strategic activities.

The New Regime covers transactions involving the acquisition of ownership interest; capital increase; mergers, demergers, or transformations to another company form; issuance of bonds that are convertible or convert to equity or provide preferential subscription rights; and establishing a "usufruct" right over equity, in other words a right to enjoy the use of and benefits from equity, absent or in lieu of ownership.

The above applies provided that, as a result of such transaction, the foreign investor would acquire majority control (ownership, voting rights, appointing management or otherwise) if the investment reaches or exceeds HUF 350 million; or in case of non-EU/non-EEA investors at least 5 percent ownership interest (or 3 per cent ownership interest in publicly listed companies), if the investment reaches or exceeds HUF 350 million; or an ownership interest reaching 10 percent, 20 percent or 50 percent in a strategic company or any level of interest which, if computed together with any other foreign investors' interest, exceeds 25 percent.

In addition, irrespective of ownership thresholds or transaction sizes, the transfer of using or operational rights of infrastructures and assets that are "indispensable for the operation of strategic companies" (including the pledging of these assets and infrastructures) require both notification to and acknowledgement by the competent minister.

In relation to transactions caught by the New FDI Regime, indirect acquisitions and higher-level intragroup restructurings fall outside its scope.

Scope of the review

Under the General FDI Regime, the competent minister reviews whether the triggering event "harms Hungary's security interests," which is not defined in the relevant laws and thus gives a broad framework for discretion to the competent minister.

In case of an EU entity controlled by a non-EU investor, a blocking decision can only be made in the case of circumvention, for example if it can be established that the EU entity's involvement in the transaction is for the purpose of circumventing the FDI screening rules. This could be the case, in particular, if the EU entity controlled by a non-EU investor does not carry out any actual economic activities or has no real presence in the EU Member States.

Under the New FDI Regime, the competent minister evaluates whether the proposed transaction endangers or threatens to endanger the national interest, public order or public security of Hungary, with particular attention to the security of supply relating to the basic needs of society, in accordance with the relevant articles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, which invoke, among others, public policy, public security or public health issues.

The minister also evaluates whether the foreign investor is directly or indirectly under the control of any administrative agency of any non-EU state (including its ownership structure or financing); whether the foreign investor is or was involved in any activity relating to public security or public order in any other Member State; and whether there is substantial risk that the applicant will commit any crime or illegal activity.

Under the New FDI Regime a new pre-emption right has been introduced for the Hungarian State relating to such transactions that affect companies active in power generation with solar power plants. The relevant rules for such cases contain that if the target of a potential transaction is a Hungarian company being active in power generation with solar power plants, then the FDI notification shall include an additional notification to the Minister of National Economy noting that the pre-emption rights of the Hungarian State may apply to the transaction. If the Minister of National Economy also concludes that the transaction is subject to the pre-emption right of the State, then its ministry informs the minister responsible for energy policy about the transaction, who can decide on exercising the pre-emption right within 15 business days from receiving such information. If the minister responsible for energy policy decides to exercise the pre-emption right, then the original transaction shall be concluded by and between the seller and the Hungarian State and the Minister of National Economy will not decide on the FDI notification. If the Hungarian State does not exercise its pre-emption right, then the Minister of National Economy will decide on the acknowledgement of the FDI notification in accordance with the general rules.

Review process timeline

In the General FDI Regime, the foreign investor must make a notification to the minister leading the prime minister's Cabinet Office before implementation and within ten days of both signing the contract, in the event of equity acquisitions and operation right acquisitions; and the registration of the newly subscribed strategic activity in the company registry, for strategic activities.

The deadline for review by the minister is 60 days (extendable by 60 days) from the date of filing.

According to the New Regime, the foreign investor shall make a notification to the Minister of National Economy within ten days from signing the transaction documents. The minister has 30 business days to decide on the transaction, which deadline may be extended by 15 business days.

In case of target companies active in power generation with solar power plants, the Hungarian State can exercise its pre-emption right within 60 business days and the Minister of National Economy has also 60 business days (extendable by 15 calendar days) to decide on the notification, which deadlines are counted from the Ministry's notification to the notifying party on the existence of the pre-emption right of the Hungarian State.

The relevant ministries do not always comply with the deadlines set out in relevant laws, therefore substantial delays may occur in certain cases, and there are no effective remedies against such delays.

How foreign investors can protect themselves

Conducting an FDI analysis at the initial stages of the intended transaction is critical if the contemplated transaction touches on Hungarian companies or assets. In certain cases where FDI screening may be needed based on the applicable legal provisions, an informal discussion with the competent ministry or a written request to express their views on the transaction on a no-name basis can be useful. However, it should be highlighted that the ministries are not keen to provide such opinions and those opinions would be on a non-reliance basis.

If the initial FDI analysis shows that an FDI notification is necessary under the General FDI Regime, then the FDI notification is mandatory. However, if the initial FDI analysis indicates that an FDI notification is necessary under the New FDI Regime, there are some exceptions to explore (and maybe use) before making such a notification.

These include potential structuring of the transaction to avoid the effects of the New FDI Regime by making the transaction indirect from the Hungarian company's perspective. Alternatively, consider if an adjustment can be made to the registered activities of the target company so as to avoid unnecessary strategic activities. Hungarian targets may sometimes register a broad list of activities, even though the actual activities of the target are narrower and do not include strategic activities.

If a filing is necessary, then the process can be expedited if the filings are well prepared, address potential questions, and appropriate communications and advocacy efforts with relevant authorities are undertaken during the process.

"Looking ahead": Likely developments in the next year

As the General FDI Regime is based on EU legislation, no changes are expected to it unless the underlying EU legislation changes, which is not anticipated in the near term.

Regarding the New FDI Regime, it is worth highlighting that this piece of legislation is in force with regard to the state of emergency effective since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and which remains in force due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. If such extraordinary circumstances end, then it is possible that major changes could happen to the New FDI regulation, but it is also conceivable that the legislator would keep it in force without major amendments even if the extraordinary circumstances cease to exist.

White & Case means the international legal practice comprising White & Case LLP, a New York State registered limited liability partnership, White & Case LLP, a limited liability partnership incorporated under English law and all other affiliated partnerships, companies and entities.

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.

© 2024 White & Case LLP