On Sunday 29 March 2020 at 10:30pm AEST, the Treasurer announced temporary changes to the  foreign investment review framework which will remain in place for the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Effective from the date of the announcement, all proposed foreign investments into Australia subject to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975 (Cth) will require approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), regardless of the value or the nature of the foreign investor.

What are the key changes and affects of these changes?

1. Zero monetary screening threshold

The monetary screening threshold is now $0 for all foreign investment applications.

The reduction in the monetary threshold means that some transactions that were previously exempt from FIRB approval will now require this approval.

2. Extended deadline to review applications

The timeframe for FIRB to review an application has been extended from 30 days to 6 months. This extension also applies to all existing applications.

Transactions conditional on FIRB approval being obtained within 30 days should be reviewed as significant consequences may arise, if overlooked.

3. Additional conditions

Additional conditions may be applied to an approval granted by FIRB to address identified risks on a non-discriminatory basis.

Foreign investors may be subject to additional conditions and incur costs in order to comply with the conditions.

4. Applications that support Australian businesses and jobs will be prioritised

Applications will also be assessed on a case by case basis to ensure that the proposed investment is not contrary to national interest, including economic and national security.

For applications submitted before the changes, foreign investors should consider submitting additional information to FIRB concerning the commercial and broader economic impacts of the investment. This may assist FIRB to determine an application as “urgent“ and assess it before the extended deadline of 6 months.

Penalties may apply for not seeking FIRB approval

Foreign investors should take great care in noting these changes by FIRB as serious civil and criminal penalties may apply for breaches of the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act, even if unintentional.

Contact us

Please contact our Commercial Team should you require assistance in respect of these changes or if you have any other queries arising from the impact of Coronavirus on your business.


About the Author

Sasha Roberts

Senior Associate
Possessing a highly commercial outlook and detailed work ethic, Sasha is a corporate and workplace relations lawyer able to determine the legal detail and practical realities of an issue. Sasha is an experienced workplace relations and corporate lawyer with a broad depth of experience obtaining risk adverse solutions for her clients across a number of […]

Related News

Coronavirus and the Law: Changes to the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010

On Saturday 28 March 2020, a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission made a determination to vary the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010 (Clerks Award) by inserting “Schedule 1 – Award Flexibility During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Schedule 1...
30 March, 2020

Coronavirus and the Law Series: Coronavirus and commercial contracts – what are the consequences?

The coronavirus has thrown Australians into uncharted territory with the implications of the outbreak still a major unknown with the effect on our economy remaining to be seen. The ability for businesses and individuals to hold up or enforce contracts...
12 March, 2020

Coronavirus and the Law: What do I need to do if I require my employees to work from home as a result of the Coronavirus? What issues does this raise for an employer?

The Coronavirus pandemic has seen a surge in Australian employees working from home to implement social distancing measures with many employers having to rapidly react to the change in working environment. From midday on Monday 23 March 2020, the National...
27 March, 2020