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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.

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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.

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: Spain

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.


7 min read

Maria Estela Pichardo (White & Case) contributed to the development of this publication

The Spanish FDI regulations provide for the need to obtain prior administrative authorization for certain FDIs in Spain that are deemed to affect public order, public safety or public health. Specifically, the mechanisms focus on investments that operate in critical sectors or are made by certain purchasers, subject to certain thresholds.

Summary of major changes in 2023

During 2023, a new FDI regulation was enacted in order to further develop the existing Spanish FDI legislation. Specifically, this regulation introduces the following changes:

  • In regard to investment funds, the FDI regulation has clarified that its management company ("sociedad gestora") will be considered as the ultimate beneficial owner
  • The new FDI regulation states that previous authorization from the competent authorities in Spain will not be necessary if: the transaction consists of internal group restructurings and increases in share capital by shareholders that hold more than 10 percent of the share capital and that do not suppose a change of control; within the energy sector, the companies or assets acquired do not engage in regulated activities; as a result of the transaction, the company does not acquire the status of dominant operator in the electricity generation and supply sectors; and in the case of the acquisition of electricity production assets, the share of the company's shareholding in the electricity generation and supply sectors is not higher than that of the company's shareholding in the generation sector
  • In relation to the scope of application, the regulation further defines activities in certain strategic sectors, such as critical and dual-use technologies and key inputs. It further defines the operations that are subject to prior authorization by investor profile, including those profiles where there is control by the government of a third country, or where there could be a presumption of serious risk
  • Foreign direct investments where the turnover of the acquired companies does not exceed €5 million in the last closed accounting period, as well as transitory operations without the capacity to influence, are now exempt from the FDI scrutiny mechanism. Moreover, the exemption for investments of less than €1 million that were not subject to prior authorization is no longer applicable
  • The maximum term for resolving the request for authorization is reduced from six to three months for all types of transactions, regardless of the amount involved. Additionally, the maximum term for the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism to resolve informal filings for preliminary assessment will be 30 days

Who files?

The FDI application must be filed by the investor, specifically, by the legal entity that will be investing into the Spanish target.

The filing must be made through the electronic office of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism. To request the authorization, the legal entity must complete a questionnaire for the foreign investment screening, which is publicly available in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism. Even though the filing requires no standard form, the competent authorities have put into place a questionnaire to be filled out regarding the investor profile and the details of the transaction.

Among other things, the entity will have to identify details of the investor and the target; the shareholding structure of the investor; the method by which the investment is being made; the amount of the investment; and the effective participation of the investor in the target after the transaction, among other information.

There is no filing fee.

Types of deals reviewed

The Spanish FDI legislation provides for the need to obtain prior administrative authorization for a number of foreign direct investments in Spain that are considered to affect public order, public safety or public health. This is assuming that they are operations that are ultimately carried out by residents of countries outside the EU and EFTA, and that involve the investor becoming a shareholder of 10 percent or more of the share capital of a Spanish company, or part thereof or acquiring control thereof.

Authorization is also required for investments where the target operates in areas such as critical infrastructures, critical and dual-use technologies, supply of fundamental inputs, and with access to sensitive information and the media; or in which the investor is directly or indirectly controlled by the government of a third country or poses a serious risk of criminal or illegal activities affecting public safety, public order or public health in Spain.

Additionally, investments in Spanish companies with a turnover of less than €5 million in the past fiscal year are exempt from previous authorization, except for several exceptions in the energy, communications and raw materials sectors.

Likewise, investments by residents of EU or EFTA countries will also be subject to authorization when their value exceeds €500 million or when they are directed to companies listed in Spain.

Scope of the review

The review by the regulator focuses on several aspects. The regulator focuses primarily on the nationality of the investor, its shareholding structure, its ultimate beneficiaries and what other investments it has made.

The regulator is interested in who controlled the target prior to the transaction and what its main activity is, in case the acquisition could affect public order, safety or health in any way.

The regulator focuses on how the transaction will be carried out, whether it will result in a change of the target's activity and what the amount of the investment will be. In practice, it is usually sufficient to include this information in the filing, and it is not usually necessary to provide the sale purchase agreement or any other documentation related to the transaction.

The regulator is interested in how the company will be managed after the transaction, who will be part of its governing body, if it intends to change its activity, or if it intends to make substantial changes regarding its employees, among other aspects. In practice, at the time of filing, there is usually not much information on these issues, so the regulator focuses less on them than on the other aspects.

Review process timeline

Given the new changes introduced by the FDI Regulation, the authority must authorize or deny the transactions within a maximum period of three months. Once this period has elapsed without a response from the authority, it will be understood that the authorization has been denied.

For foreign investors who submit the questionnaire seeking a preliminary opinion as to whether the authorization mechanism applies, the authorities will have 30 working days to respond, subject to a favorable report from the Foreign Investment Board, and during this period, no application for authorization may be made. In any case, the investor should assume that the foreign direct investment proposal is rejected if there is no response from the regulator. In practice, the average time taken by the authority to respond to questionnaires is approximately one-and-a-half months.

In any case, the response time, both for the authorization and for the questionnaire, will depend on the volume of requests that the authority has at the time.

How foreign investors can protect themselves

A good form of protection for investors is to receive specific advice on each transaction, as the application of the mechanism is still quite uncertain given its recent introduction.

It is useful to consider similar transactions that have been made previously, as this may be an indicator of whether or not it will be necessary to seek approval.

It is also useful to provide the necessary information to the authority in advance, as this may avoid additional questions from the authority and speed up the response process.

"Looking ahead": Likely developments in the next year

Due to the approval of the recently enacted Spanish FDI regulation and consequent application of new foreign investment mechanisms, it is unlikely that there will be new measures adopted by the Spanish competent authorities in this respect, unless certain clarifications or corrections as to the interpretation of the law must be given.

Nevertheless, in an informal manner, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism has communicated that it will prepare a series of guidelines for the procedure of applying for foreign direct investment authorizations in Spain.

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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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