FIRRMA Takes Form as CFIUS Enacts a New Pilot Program Targeting “Critical Technologies”

  • On October 10, 2018, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States put into effect the first mandatory filing requirement ever imposed by CFIUS. The Department of Treasury’s summary of the Pilot Program is available here.
  • Effective November 10, 2018, CFIUS will require reviews of critical technology investments – including certain non-controlling investments – from any country.
  • A failure to file notice or a new short form declaration to CFIUS may result in a civil monetary penalty up to the value of the transaction.
  • The requirements will not apply to any transaction that is completed prior to November 10, 2018 or any transaction for which the material terms were established prior to October 11, 2018.

Background

On August 13, 2018, President Trump signed FIRRMA into law. FIRRMA is a transformational expansion of the authority of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review certain transactions that previously eluded the Committee’s jurisdiction (discussed in our blog, here). Congress left many critical aspects of the FIRRMA framework to be addressed through regulations promulgated by the Department of Treasury. Although we do not expect final rules to be forthcoming until late 2019 or early 2020, Congress empowered the Department of Treasury to “test-drive” parts of FIRRMA through Pilot Programs. Those programs can be implemented simply, taking effect 30 days after publication of the program requirements in the Federal Register. The adoption and implementation of the Pilot Program for critical technologies represents the Department of Treasury’s first attempt to implement substantive parts of FIRRMA prior to issuing formal regulations. Continue Reading

Hiring Personnel in New York: Dos and Don’ts – Part 1

Part I: Advertising and Interviewing

Foreign companies expanding their operations to the U.S. through New York usually handle their U.S. hiring process like the way they do back in their home country. They should not.

While many states place restrictions on the hiring process, New York offers extensive and singular protection to prospective employees whose content and scope is not necessarily in the mind of all U.S. employers; foreign-based ones should, therefore, be even more careful. From posting a job offer to running a background check, New York employment law constantly evolves and thus provides many pitfalls that can turn any hiring process into a costly and lengthy litigation. This article is the first in a two-part series that will address certain key New York laws regarding (1) advertising and interviewing for a job, and (2) offer letters and background checks. Continue Reading

“Que Je T’Aime”: L’affaire d’heritage de Johnny Hallyday

As a battle rages on in Nanterre, west of Paris, over the estate of Johnny Hallyday, who is best known as the “French Elvis”, and spills out across the pages of the tabloid press in France, we offer a view from Hallyday’s adopted home, Los Angeles, California. It is, after all, the central question of this affair whether a will and trust executed in California under California law, which was intended to dispose of assets that include Hallyday’s properties in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, will be respected or tossed aside as a violation of French forced-heirship laws. The saga of the Hallyday case is a cautionary tale for French nationals who reside outside of France or who have property or assets outside of France, or for foreigners who may be considered domiciliaries of France (or other nations with inheritance laws that differ from France), as well as for members of their families whose inheritance may be caught in between. Continue Reading

Stuck in the Middle With You: EU Blocking Statutes, Iran Sanctions, and the Thousands of Businesses Caught In Between

Imagine telling your company’s Board of Directors that the company will have to knowingly violate the law. Further, you might note, the American Law Institute’s Principles of Corporate Governance state that, with very limited exceptions, a director who knowingly causes the corporation to disobey the law violates his duty of care. The protections of the Business Judgement Rule may not be available to a board member who, charged with navigating the Scylla and Charybdis of a conflict of laws, steers right into the shoals of noncompliance.

Beginning August 6, that will be the situation facing the thousands of companies that are subject to U.S. sanctions on Iran and to EU regulations blocking those sanctions. While it appears to be a stark choice, some nuances to the regulations may make navigating the narrow straights of the conflict of laws a less Odyssean and more practically manageable. Continue Reading

Life in the Fast Lane: CFIUS-Free Investments, if You’re From the Right Country

All this past week, you have been hearing about FIRRMA, the new legislation that will increase the powers of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States that is expected to be signed into law in the coming weeks. As we predicted here and here on our Global Trade Law Blog, FIRRMA will authorize CFIUS to review non-controlling investments by foreign companies, to enhance restrictions on investment in certain “critical technology,” to target real estate deals in proximity to sensitive U.S. Government sites, and to require mandatory filings for certain investments by foreign government-owned entities. Continue Reading

Reform of Foreign Investment in the U.S.: France and Other Allied Countries Might be Exempt

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday, July 10, 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).

The 400-2 passage in the House shows an overwhelming bipartisan momentum behind FIRRMA and signals that the bill is likely to be on the President’s desk for signature as soon as the House and Senate reconcile their versions. The timing of the actions is not coincidental. It appears that the Trump Administration has decided to let Congress take the lead on increasing scrutiny of foreign investments. Continue Reading

Opening a U.S. Bank Account Can be Much More Onerous than you Think and Can Delay Your Cross-Border Transaction or Growth Plans in the U.S.

French investments in the U.S. vary largely in terms of scale and nature, but whatever it is a small French startup only creating an even smaller U.S. subsidiary or a large French corporation acquiring and restructuring an even larger U.S. group, they all face the same hurdle at some point: opening a U.S. bank account to run their newly-created or newly-acquired business.

Be aware that U.S. banks require corporations, partnerships and LLCs to have an Employer Identification Number (“EIN”) to open an account. Therefore, until you have an EIN, you cannot open a bank account, which could affect your transaction’s agenda, especially in deals where time is of essence (which is almost always the case). Continue Reading

Monumental Shift in Sales Tax Collection Requirements for Remote Retailers

On June 21, 2018, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., overturning a 26 year-old decision holding that a retailer must have a physical presence in a state in order to have a sales or use tax collection obligation. The Wayfair decision has an immediate and major impact on retailers of all sizes, but also leaves open numerous unanswered questions. Continue Reading

Foreign Investors in the US are required to declare their investments to the Bureau of Economics and Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce

The Bureau of Economics and Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce (BEA) conducts researches and analysis on foreign direct investments in the United States quarterly, annually and every five-year. Foreign investors should be acquainted with its requirements, more specifically, its BE-13 and BE-15 forms. Continue Reading

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