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Horst Henschen

Horst Henschen has been advising international companies on their significant strategic antitrust and competition matters for over 25 years. He acts for buyers, sellers, and financial investors in merger control proceedings including in Joint Venture scenarios and defending companies against unsolicited takeovers. Horst advises companies in significant (international) cartel investigations and on dominance issues.

In addition, Horst has advised numerous investors and target companies in international and German Foreign Direct Investment (“FDI”) proceedings helping in building up the firm’s ex-US FDI initiative.

Horst is a member of the firm’s global antitrust and competition team and heads the firm’s German competition practice. He is part of our cross-office FDI team that works in close cooperation with the firm’s CFIUS colleagues.

The European Commission (the “Commission”) issued a White Paper on Outbound Investments (the “White Paper”) on 24 January 2024, setting out non-binding proposals for a detailed analysis of EU outbound investment. With its initiative, the Commission aims to understand whether the current limited regulation in the area of outbound investments is

Continue Reading Outbound investment screening in the EU – A major step forward?

On 24 January 2024, the European Commission (the “Commission”) published its European Economic Security Package (the “EESP”), which included the long-awaited proposal to reform the EU Regulation which established a framework for Foreign Direct Investment screening (the “EU FDI Regulation”). The EESP’s proposed regulation (the “Proposed Regulation”)

Continue Reading Draft EU Screening Regulation – a new chapter for screening foreign direct investments in the EU

In quick succession on 7 and 15 November 2023, the Administrative Court of Berlin (Verwaltungsgericht Berlin, the “VG Berlin”) has ruled on procedural matters in foreign direct investment review proceedings of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (the “BMWK”) in two hearings. Because court rulings on these non-public administrative proceedings

Continue Reading Berlin court clarifies significant German FDI issues

Das Verwaltungsgericht Berlin (VG Berlin) hat in zwei kurz aufeinanderfolgenden Verhandlungen vom 7. und 15. November 2023 zu Verfahrensfragen bei Investitionsprüfverfahren des Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz (BMWK) geurteilt. Da Gerichtsentscheidungen zu diesen nichtöffentlichen Verwaltungsverfahren – es geht um die nationale Sicherheit und öffentliche Ordnung – bisher sehr rar sind, werden die gerichtlichen Klarstellungen zur

Continue Reading VG Berlin zu Verfahrensfragen bei der Investitionsprüfung

Based on the 11th Amendment to the German Competition Act (Gesetz gegen Wettbewerbsbeschränkungen, “GWB”) that was passed by the German parliament (Bundestag) on 6 July 2023, the GWB will undergo significant reform (the “Reform”). Among other Reform amendments, attention has focused on the Federal Cartel Office’s (Bundeskartellamt, “FCO”) new powers in the context of sector inquiries (Sektoruntersuchungen). According to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz, “BMWK”), the amendments intend to strengthen business opportunities for competitors, start-ups and small / medium sized entities.

For the first time under German competition law, the FCO will obtain powers to take remedial measures following sector inquiries, even where the addressee has not been found to have engaged in anti-competitive conduct. Under the Reform, the FCO will be able to take measures where it identifies a significant and continuing ‘disruption of competition’ (Störung des Wettbewerbs) in the relevant market. Such measures will include – as ultima ratio – divestment orders (new Section 32f of the GWB).

In this blog-post we: explain the concept of sector inquiries under the GWB in general; and analyse the key amendments to the FCO’s sector inquiry powers, the most significant changes under the Reform.Continue Reading Sector Inquiries and the German new (and complicated) Competition Toolbox

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?

On October 26, 2022, the German government permitted (with conditions) an investment by Chinese state-owned COSCO Shipping Group (“COSCO”) in one of Hamburg’s four shipping container terminals. Pursuant to foreign direct investment (“FDI”) laws, the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz, “BMWK”) had been notified of the proposed acquisition by COSCO of a 35% minority interest in the port terminal, a strategic location on the German coastline. The BMWK ordered that COSCO’s acquisition of voting rights must remain below 25%. The details of the decision remain confidential, but the BMWK justified its partial prohibition on the grounds that the acquisition of 35% as notified would constitute a “threat to public order and security”. According to the BMWK’s press release, the partial prohibition decision prevents COSCO from acquiring a ‘strategic’ shareholding, and reduces the acquisition to a mere financial participation. As a safeguard in this respect, the decision contains provisions prohibiting COSCO from acquiring any additional influence, for example, through a grant of rights that would be atypical for a holder of a less than 25% interest. Furthermore, under the German FDI regime, any follow-on acquisition of additional voting rights by COSCO would be subject to a new notification requirement.Continue Reading COSCO FDI Review: Germany partially prohibits Chinese investment in a Hamburg container terminal – Spotlight on minority investments

The European Commission (“Commission”) has repeatedly urged EU Member States to set up foreign direct investment (“FDI”) screening mechanisms. To date, 18 out of 27 Member States have adopted FDI screening powers, providing for the review of M&A transactions and other investments on national security and public policy grounds. Recently, Belgium and Ireland have each announced draft proposals which, once implemented, will enlarge the group of Member States reviewing transactions on FDI grounds.

Against this background of increasing FDI screening for local and global M&A transactions, some voices call for broader reforms. The European Parliament has launched an initiative aimed to address a future EU international investment policy and recently adopted a resolution with far-reaching proposals for FDI screening in Europe.

We provide an update on these developments in this blog post and consider the current outlook for FDI screening.Continue Reading Belgium and Ireland to introduce new FDI screening powers – European Parliament calls for broader reforms

Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine is broadly impacting foreign direct investment (“FDI”) screening. A range of governments have announced they will apply close scrutiny to investments from Russia and its allied countries in general, and not only to investors that are subject to sanctions or other restrictive measures. The European Commission (“Commission”) has published guidance on the screening of investments from Russia and Belarus.

The German government has already intervened, appointing a fiduciary for an operator of critical gas infrastructure. Canada issued a policy statement targeting Russian investors and Italy permanently broadened its FDI regime. Our blog provides a summary of these developments below.Continue Reading FDI regulators show their teeth – Close scrutiny and firm intervention in response to Russia’s war against Ukraine

In M&A and other transactions, conditions associated with foreign direct investment (“FDI”) filings are becoming more common place, and investors are adjusting to the diligence, disclosure and time associated with obtaining FDI clearances. In the EU, the introduction of wider-ranging FDI laws has been rapid, and freshly empowered national regulators in the Member States are already demonstrating their willingness to use the tools at their disposal where they believe that is necessary. For investors, the deal execution risks are sobering in circumstances where a failure to obtain mandatory clearance may  render a transaction void (in addition to other possible sanctions). Transaction costs are also rising as longstop dates lengthen to accommodate sometimes unpredictable FDI review periods, especially for deals in the most sensitive sectors.

Marking one year since the full implementation of the EU FDI screening regulation (the “EU FDI Regulation” or the “Regulation”), this blogpost considers the first annual report on FDI (the “Report”) published by the European Commission on 23 November 2021 and reflects on M&A in the current EU FDI landscape.Continue Reading Foreign Direct Investment Regulation: EU M&A after one year of the FDI Regulation