Recent amendments to the French foreign investment control regime have brought significant changes.
We analyse the effects of the regime changes on M&A activity and on the timeline for foreign investment approval in France.
In particular, from 1 April 2020, the ownership threshold that triggers an approval requirement for non-EU/EEA investors has been lowered from 33.33% to 25%. All entities and persons in a chain of control are considered as a "foreign investor" over a target legal entity governed by French law.
In addition, the scope of "strategic sectors" has been extended to activities in relation to (i) political and general information press services, (ii) agricultural products contributing to national food security objectives, (iii) quantum technologies and (iv) energy storage and (v) biotechnologies.
The measures have also amended the applicable timeframe of the review process and specified the information required for a filing.
The French Government has also announced on 29 April, that the threshold at which the screening regime will be triggered will soon be lowered temporarily from 25% to 10% of voting rights for non-EU investors acquiring shares in listed companies. The applicable decree has not yet been published but this should be already considered in investment decisions.