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.
On 22 January 2021 the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (“BMWi”) published a draft for the 17th amendment (“Draft Amendment”) of the Foreign Trade and Payments Ordinance (“AWV”). While the Draft Amendment remains subject to comments and further consultation, it already provides early guidance on sectors that may come under close Foreign Direct Investments (“FDI”) scrutiny in future. Among other changes, the Draft Amendment defines a number of additional sensitive activities triggering mandatory and suspensive filing requirements.
The new rules can be expected to have significant impact on transactions in particular in the technology sector and will lead to a significant increase in mandatory FDI filings in Germany.
Continue Reading Significant Revamp of German FDI Regime – German Government Presents New Rules on FDI Screening
The German government has proposed a new draft bill reforming the current foreign direct investment (“FDI”) regime, which is likely to have a significant impact on all M&A transactions involving acquisitions of 10% or more of the voting rights in German companies active in “critical infrastructures” and “critical technologies” by any non-EU investors. Under the revised regime, such transactions will automatically be subject to a period of suspension until clearance is granted.
Continue Reading German Government Decides on Tightening the National FDI Screening Regime
On 7 October 2019, the German Ministry of Economics and Energy published the draft Act on Digitalisation of German Competition Law (the “Draft Act”). The Draft Act proposes several key changes to the current competition rules in Germany, with an emphasis on what the proponents present as novel challenges that arise in digital markets and in connection with data. Subject to further revisions by the Federal Government, the Draft Act would enter into force during the second half of 2020.
Continue Reading German Ministry of Economics and Energy publishes the draft Act on Digitalisation of German Competition Law
The German Monopolies Commission (Monopolkommission), an independent body advising the German federal government and legislature on competition law and policy, recently published its Twenty-second Biennial Report (“Report”) in which it outlined recommendations to adapt the German legal framework to account for what it characterized as new competition challenges faced by the increasing and irreversible digitisation of many parts of the economy (please see the Summary Report here and Press Release here, both available in English). Of particular interest is the Monopolies Commission’s proposed approach to anti-competitive algorithm-based pricing.
Continue Reading The German Monopolies Commission’s Proposals Regarding Pricing Algorithms
On 6 October 2017, the German Competition Authority (the “FCO”) launched a new series of papers on “Competition and Consumer Protection in the Digital Economy” with its first paper on “Big Data and Competition” (available in German) (the “Paper”). The FCO sets out its view of the specific characteristics of digital, data-based markets, the role data may play in the competitive analysis of such markets and the importance of data protection in competition law proceedings.
Continue Reading The Bundeskartellamt Publishes a Paper on Big Data and Competition