LexCast: Will Switzerland Put Shackles on Foreign Direct Investments?

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In May 2022, the Federal Council presented a new legislation to screen foreign direct investment seeks to prevent threats to public order and security posed by foreign investors acquiring Swiss companies. In 2023 we will find out what will happen next.

Switzerland is one of the world’s largest recipients of foreign investment. Being open to inward foreign investment is of central importance for Switzerland as a business centre. The country must therefore remain attractive for foreign investment even if screening is introduced. However, in the last years Switzerland’s policy to remain open for investments was heavily discussed, when foreign investors intended to acquire or to invest in mid-size or large Swiss companies.

In the future, further possible threats are expected in particular from investors with ties to foreign governments. According to the current draft law the acquisition of Swiss companies by foreign state-owned companies or by investors with ties to foreign governments should therefore be subject to approval in all sectors. Furthermore, the draft law defines in which critical areas all acquisitions by foreign investors – state or private – must be authorised. Nevertheless, it should be noted that small businesses are to be exempted from the screening process by setting a de minimis threshold.

Marc Baumberger from MLL Legal talked about this new draft legislation, which will now after the consultation be finalised as a draft law and then submitted to the Swiss States and National Council. Therefore, we expect this to become one of the key discussions points in M&A the following year.

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