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U.S. updates rules for foreign investors

Jill Barshay Apr 23, 2008


Lisa Napoli: The weak dollar is making it possible for people outside the U.S. to shop well here and to buy companies, too. This week, the Treasury Department spelled out new rules for when the U.S. Government gets to approve those transactions.

Jill Barshay: These rules are all about national security. The Treasury says overseas investors can expect scrutiny, even for tiny stakes under 10 percent. Todd Malan is president of the Organization for International Investment. He says screening could kick in, if foreigners want a say in how a company is run.

Todd Malan: Like a board seat or exclusive rights to appoint the CEO.

Malan says the government will focus only on companies involved in defense or homeland security. That won’t include Wall Street banks and non-strategic industries.

Malan: Oh, I don’t think we’re going to be like the French and view our food producers as national security. If foreign investors want to buy 10, 20 or 30 percent of Starbucks, I think they’re most welcome.

Malan says foreign investment fell 41 percent in the first quarter. He hopes that number will reverse now the review process is less mysterious.

In New York, I’m Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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