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Senators introduce bill for scrutiny of foreign investments

Two U.S. senators have introduced bipartisan legislation to place foreign investments under strict, transparent review for their long-term effects on the U.S. economy, after "[r]ecent patterns of foreign investment in the U.S. have raised concerns that overseas competitors, including state-owned enterprises, are pursuing investments to make strategic gains in the U.S. market or to benefit their own domestic industries," according to an Oct. 18 press release.

Among recent transactions are Ant Financial's bid for MoneyGram International Inc., Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group's pending transaction for the Chicago Stock Exchange Inc., and China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co. Ltd.'s negotiations for Genworth Financial Inc.

Zhonghong Zhuoye Group in May bought a 21% stake in SeaWorld. In 2016, HNA Group bought a 25% equity interest in Hilton Worldwide.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said: "Foreign investments should lead to good-paying jobs in Chillicothe and Chardon — not huge payouts for the Chinese government." Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, added: "This bill further equips the Administration with the ability to fight back against unfair trade barriers to U.S. exports and businesses. Europe, Canada, Australia and China have similar investment screens already in place."

The U.S. Foreign Investment Review Act would require a review of any investment that would result in a foreign entity controlling a U.S. entity worth more than $1 billion or of any transaction by a state-owned enterprise that would result in control of a U.S. entity worth more than $50 million.

The bill also allows Congress to request additional reviews.