Earlier this month, the FCC adopted a Report & Order (“R&O”) streamlining the application review process for transactions involving foreign investment or participation in U.S. telecommunications companies (commonly known as “Team Telecom” but also referred to as “the Committee” in the R&O).  Team Telecom is comprised of a committee of Executive Branch agencies (including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice) tasked with assessing the national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, and trade policy concerns in these cross-border M&A transactions involving U.S. telecom companies.  The FCC issued the R&O to formalize a decades-long practice and update its rules governing Team Telecom review consistent with the President’s April 4, 2020 Executive Order No. 13913 (the “EO”).  The FCC builds upon the initial procedural requirements set by the EO to add certainty and transparency to the Team Telecom review process in a manner that protects national security interests without discouraging foreign investment.
Continue Reading Formalizing Team Telecom

The Takeaway: Severe restrictions on ByteDance’s Sale of TikTok should be a warning to media and tech companies with foreign ownership, particularly Chinese investment, to know your risks and mitigate them before the government comes knocking.
Continue Reading UPDATE: National Security Meets Teenage Dance Battles: U.S. Increases Pressure on ByteDance Sale of TikTok

On August 6, 2020, Trump issued two separate executive orders that will severely restrict TikTok and WeChat’s business in the United States.  For weeks, the media has reported on Trump’s desire to “ban” TikTok with speculation about the legal authority to do so.  We break down the impact of the Orders below.
Continue Reading National Security Meets Teenage Dance Battles: Trump Issues Executive Orders Impacting TikTok and WeChat Business in the U.S.

On April 4th, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order on Establishing the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector.  The Executive Order essentially formalizes the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC” or “Commission”) existing “Team Telecom” review process by establishing the Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector (“Committee”), with one notable exception:  for the first time, Team Telecom reviews will occur subject to a defined and limited timeframe of 120 days (with the possibility of 90 additional days), as further explained below.  These timeframes are slightly lengthier than the review periods recently established by the Department of Treasury for reviews conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”).[1]
Continue Reading Too Much Time on Their Hands – New Executive Order Limits Time Period for Team Telecom Reviews

Key Takeaways:

  • Technology Infrastructure and Data. CFIUS will focus its review on investments in critical Technology, critical Infrastructure, and sensitive personal Data (“TID Businesses”).
    • Critical technologies is defined to include certain items subject to export controls along with emerging and foundational technologies under the Export Control Reform Act of 2018.
    • CFIUS provides a very helpful list of critical infrastructure and functions to help assess whether any business is a TID Business. We reproduce most of this list at the end of this blog article. (Sneak preview: telecom, utilities, energy, and transportation dominate the list.)
      Continue Reading CFIUS Proposes Rules to Implement FIRRMA
  • 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 FIRRMA Takes Form as CFIUS Enacts a New Pilot Program Targeting “Critical Technologies”

  • CFIUS takes an unprecedented step to fend off a potential foreign acquisition
  • The threat that China will eclipse the U.S. in telecommunications infrastructure and technology is central to U.S. national security
  • Five key takeaways from the most recent CFIUS action

Since late 2017, Singapore-based semiconductor company Broadcom has been pursuing a $117 billion hostile takeover bid for Qualcomm, its U.S.-based rival whose chips are omnipresent in U.S. telecommunications infrastructure, including consumer devices like smartphones and tablets. As part of its hostile bid, Broadcom nominated its own slate of six directors who were to be voted on at Qualcomm’s annual stockholders meeting, originally scheduled for March 6th. However, earlier this week the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) announced that it “issued an interim order to Qualcomm directing it to postpone its annual stockholders meeting and election of directors by 30 days. This measure will afford CFIUS the ability to investigate fully Broadcom’s proposed acquisition of Qualcomm.”
Continue Reading Chips on Their Shoulders: CFIUS Intervenes in Broadcom’s Hostile Takeover Bid for Qualcomm

Last month, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) released its annual report to Congress for 2015 (the “2015 Annual Report”) and its cumulative table summarizing foreign investment activity from 2014 through 2016 (the “Cumulative Summary Table”). These documents reflect a substantial increase in the number of CFIUS filings in recent years and an increase in the percentage of CFIUS Notices that have been subject to an investigation process. The Report also reflects a new focus at CFIUS on the national security risks associated with data breaches affecting U.S. citizens’ personal information.
Continue Reading Tracking Trends in CFIUS Review Process Based on Recently Released 2015 Annual Report

In a stunning ruling issued on July 15, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) and the subsequent unwinding of the investment deprived the foreign investor of due process under the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Ralls Corp. v. Comm. on Foreign Investment in the United States, No. 12-cv-01513 (D.C. Cir. Jul. 15, 2014) (a copy of the opinion is here).  If upheld, the ruling may require fundamental changes in how CFIUS conducts its reviews and may enhance foreign investors’ ability to influence or challenge the outcome of a review.
Continue Reading Shedding Light on CFIUS: Appeals Court Holds That CFIUS Review Lacks Constitutional Due Process

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS” or the “Committee”) recently submitted its annual report to Congress for calendar year 2010. The report, which provides general information on notices filed, reviews and investigations completed by CFIUS during the year, and the types of security arrangements and conditions that the Committee has employed to mitigate national security concerns, reveals that a larger number of reviews are proceeding to the investigation stage and that the Committee is increasingly conditioning its tacit approval of transactions upon the parties’ adoption and implementation of various mitigation measures.


Continue Reading CFIUS Submits Annual Report To Congress