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Heather Finstuen

Heather Finstuen is a partner in the firm’s CFIUS practice and a co-chair of the Foreign Direct Investment initiative. She represents international and domestic companies in numerous industries in securing the approval of CFIUS and provides counseling on negotiating, implementing, and complying with CFIUS national security agreements. She frequently advises clients on national industrial security regulations and engages with the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (“DCSA”), the Department of Energy, and other cognizant security agencies on topics including the determination and mitigation of foreign ownership, control, or influence (“FOCI”).

Heather has been involved in many complex CFIUS and FOCI matters, including Nexen Inc. in its $15 billion sale to China National Offshore Oil Corporation, GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ $1 billion acquisition of the IBM Microelectronics Division, Micro Focus on transactions including its $8.8 billion acquisition of HPE’s software business and $2.5 billion sale of its SUSE business, CenturyLink’s $2.2 billion sale of its Savvis data center business, Publicis Groupe’s $3.7 billion acquisition of Sapient, numerous matters for BAE Systems, and multiple transactions for The Carlyle Group.

On the heels of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions, and U.S.-China tensions over Taiwan, 2022 accelerated a sweeping effort within the U.S. government to make national security considerations—especially with respect to China—a key feature of new and existing regulatory processes. This trend toward broader national security regulation, designed to help maintain U.S. strategic advantage, has support from both Republicans and Democrats, including from the Biden Administration. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s remarks in September 2022 capture the tone shift in Washington: “…[W]e have to revisit the longstanding premise of maintaining ‘relative’ advantages over competitors in certain key technologies…That is not the strategic environment we are in today…[w]e must maintain as large of a lead as possible.”

This environment produced important legislative and regulatory developments in 2022, including the CHIPS and Science Act (Covington alert), first-ever Enforcement and Penalty Guidelines promulgated by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS” or the “Committee”) (Covington alert), President Biden’s Executive Order on CFIUS (Covington alert), new restrictions under U.S. export control authorities targeting China (Covington alert), and proposals for a new regime to review outbound investments by U.S. businesses (Covington alert). The common thread among these developments is the U.S. government’s continuing appetite to use both existing and new regulatory authorities to address identified national security risks, especially where perceived risks relate to China.

With a Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives riding the tailwinds of this bipartisan consensus, 2023 is looking like a pivotal moment for national security regulation—expanding beyond the use of traditional authorities such as trade controls and CFIUS, into additional regulatory domains touching upon data, communications, antitrust, and possibly more. In parallel, the U.S. focus on national security continues to gain purchase abroad, with foreign direct investment (“FDI”) regimes maturing in tandem with CFIUS, and outbound investment screening gaining traction, for example, in the European Union (“EU”). It is crucial for businesses to be aware of these developments and to approach U.S. regulatory processes with a sensitivity towards the shifting national security undercurrents described in greater detail below.Continue Reading Will 2023 Be an Inflection Point in National Security Regulation?