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US Treasury releases new rules expanding national security deal reviews

The U.S. Treasury Department released new, temporary regulations on foreign deals involving critical American technology, expanding the power of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. at a time of increasing worries over Chinese acquisitions.

The new rules widen the scope of transactions subject to CFIUS review to include certain noncontrolling investments in U.S. businesses involved in technologies that could be deemed critical to national security.

Foreign investments that would be covered by the expanded review include deals that give foreign investors access to material nonpublic technical information, membership or observer rights on a target company's board of directors, or involvement in substantial decision-making in that business regarding critical technology.

The expanded CFIUS review applies to 27 industries, including aircraft, defense, telecommunications and semiconductors, according to the Treasury, which chairs the interagency CFIUS.

The new regulations are part of a pilot program set to start Nov. 10. The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018, or FIRRMA, which was signed into law in August, allows CFIUS to conduct such programs to implement certain provisions of the legislation.

"These temporary regulations address specific risks to U.S. critical technology while informing the development of final regulations that will fully implement FIRRMA," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Washington is tightening foreign investment rules amid heightened trade tensions with Beijing and growing concerns over Chinese takeovers of U.S. businesses. The Treasury, however, said that the new regulations are not country-specific.