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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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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: Malta

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


7 min read

Luca Amato (Fenech and Fenech Advocates) authored this publication

Malta's FDI regime regulates certain FDIs made, or planned to be made, in Malta. The regime covers greenfield investments and acquisitions of companies operating in certain key areas that would result in foreign (non-EU) investors having a direct or indirect ownership or holding voting rights of more than 10 percent in such companies

Summary of major changes in 2023

  • No major changes have occurred in 2023
  • The NFDISO continues to adopt a pragmatic and responsive approach to notifications and is generally forthcoming when investments are subjected to screening

Who files?

The National Foreign Direct Investment Screening Office Act obliges foreign investors and all persons involved in an FDI that is captured by the act to notify the NFDISO regarding the investment and to provide certain information regarding the entity carrying out the investment.

"Foreign investor" is defined as a natural person or an undertaking of a third (non-EU) country intending to make or having made an FDI in Malta.

The information to be provided includes the ownership structure and ultimate beneficial ownership of the investor, the value of the investment, the products, services and business operations of the foreign investor, and the source of funds for the investment. Additionally, the NFDISO may request any other information as it may reasonably require for the proper performance of its functions under the act.

The notification is made via NFDISO's online portal and must be signed by a company director of the foreign investor and, where applicable, the relevant advisory firm or agent assisting with the notification.

Types of deals reviewed

The act covers certain FDIs made or planned to be made in Malta. An FDI is defined as an investment of any kind by a foreign investor aiming to establish or to maintain lasting and direct links to carry on an economic activity in Malta, including investments that enable effective participation in the management or control of a company based in Malta.

Mandatory notification of FDIs is required by a foreign investor where an investment that affects any of the factors or activities mentioned in the schedule of the act is planned to be carried out in the future; and where, having carried out an investment in Malta, the business activity of a foreign investor is changing to one that affects any of the factors or activities mentioned in the schedule of the act.

Notification is also required where having carried out an investment in Malta that affects any of the factors or activities mentioned in the schedule, the ownership structure of an investor changes such that at least 10 percent becomes owned by foreign investors; and where, having carried out an investment, the direct or indirect controlling interest of a company or a group company changes and passes onto a foreign investor.

Scope of the review

A number of activities are mentioned in the schedule of the act and trigger the need for a notification to the NFDISO.

Firstly, critical infrastructure, whether physical or virtual, includes energy, transport, water, health, communications, media, data processing or storage, aerospace, defense, electoral or financial infrastructure, and sensitive facilities, as well as land and real estate crucial for the use of such infrastructure.

Critical technologies and dual-use items as defined in point 1 of Article 2 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 428/2009 (15), including artificial intelligence, robotics, semiconductors, cybersecurity, aerospace, defense, energy storage, quantum and nuclear technologies, as well as nanotechnologies and biotechnologies, are also included.

Notification is also required for activities relating to the supply of critical inputs, including energy or raw materials, as well as food security; access to sensitive information, including personal data, or the ability to control such information; and the freedom and pluralism of the media.

The factors to be considered are: whether the foreign investor is directly or indirectly controlled by the government of a third country, including state bodies or armed forces, 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.

Where, in considering the above activities and factors, the NFDISO concludes that the FDI affects the security or public order of Malta, it may condition, prohibit or unwind such an investment, as the case may be, and it shall inform the foreign investor in writing of its decision. The notification of the decision shall include the NFDISO's reasoning and justification, and the investor shall not be entitled to claim any compensation or reimbursement.

If the NFDISO determines that an investment shall be subjected to one or more conditions, it shall permit the foreign investor to take all necessary measures in order to satisfy the said conditions within a reasonable time period. Should the investor fail to satisfy these within the prescribed period, the NFDISO shall prohibit or unwind the investment.

Similarly, if an investment is declared unwound, the NFDISO shall permit the foreign investor to reverse or modify the investment within a reasonable time period. Failure to do so within the prescribed time would entitle the NFDISO to commence judicial proceedings before the civil court for the unwinding of the investment.

Review process timeline

The NFDISO shall determine within five days whether the investment will be subject to screening. In reaching its decision, the NFDISO will consider whether the investment may affect the security or public order of Malta on the basis of the aforementioned activities and factors. In making its assessment, the NFDISO may request any necessary additional information from the foreign investor and may seek the clarifications and explanations.

Where the NFDISO concludes that the foreign direct investment shall not be subject to screening, it shall, within five business days from the date of its decision, inform the foreign investor of its decision.

If the NFDISO concludes that the foreign direct investment shall be subject to screening, it shall inform the foreign investor within five business days from the date of its decision, and trigger the cooperation mechanism in terms of articles 6 and 7 of Regulation (EU) 2019/452, and it shall, within 60 calendar days, determine whether the foreign direct investment may affect the security or public order of Malta.

The NFDISO is also empowered by law to impose administrative penalties ranging from not less than €1,000 for failure to provide information, to not more than €100,000 for providing incorrect, inaccurate or incomplete information.

Appeals to any decision of the NFDISO or the imposition of administrative penalties are allowed by bringing an action before the Administrative Review Tribunal.

How foreign investors can protect themselves

Due to the broad wording of the law, Maltese FDI legislation covers a substantial number of transactions, particularly in the context of the notification requirement. This is because the activities that are mentioned in the schedule are drafted in a broad manner, particularly under limb (a) which covers sectors ranging from energy and health, to more commonplace industries such as media, communications and data processing or storage.

Prudent foreign investors would do well to take a cautious approach and notify the NFDISO whenever an investment is planned in a Maltese business that operates in the relevant sectors. Maltese law does not outline a specific point when the investment needs to be notified. In practice, it makes sense to notify the NFDISO whenever an investment is reliably deemed to occur, such as the period immediately following the signature of a share purchase agreement. Indeed, it is nowadays commonplace to include the obtaining of regulatory consent by the NFDISO as a condition precedent to completion in such agreements.

"Looking ahead": Likely developments in the next year

It is unlikely that major developments in local FDI legislation will occur over the coming year, and it ought to be mentioned that the number of investments that are actually subjected to screening have been low, particularly because what the NFDISO considers is whether the investment is occurring in a company that impacts the security or public order in Malta.

A notable development at the EU level is the European Commission consultation, which closed in June 2023 and which sought to evaluate the usefulness of the Regulation (EU) 2019/452 (the EU FDI Regulation). The Commission will present a report to the European Parliament and Council by the end of 2023. It will be interesting to note the Commission's findings, particularly as these might have a trickle-down effect on local FDI legislation in the years to come.

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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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