Treasury, Lawmakers Reach Handshake Deal on Investment Reviews

(Bloomberg) -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Republican lawmakers have reached a tentative deal on strengthening the review process for foreign investments in U.S. companies, a key Republican lawmaker said.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling said that after weeks of negotiations between the Treasury Department and Congress, the two sides reached a “handshake deal” late Tuesday on a plan that he said addresses national security interests while keeping open opportunities for investment in the U.S.

“The devil is always in the details so I reserve the right to actually read what people tell me they have agreed to,” the Texas congressman said on Bloomberg Television. “We are analyzing the language right now.”

President Donald Trump has been pushing Congress for legislation that would bolster the existing review process for foreign investments carried out by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or Cfius, an inter-agency panel that examines transactions that would result in control of a U.S. company by an overseas interest.

Country Lists

The tentative deal includes a list of countries, such as allies, that will not undergo heavier scrutiny rather than a list of nations that would face tougher reviews, according to two people familiar with negotiations. The deal also scales back the scope of mandatory light filings, the people said.

John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, said the deal mostly follows the contours of his chamber’s bill, which would subject more investment to mandatory reviews than called for in the House version.

Hensarling, who had been pushing for the less restrictive provisions of the House bill, said the compromise is “not quite as good as the House bill” but it’s “far better than the Senate bill.”

“Hopefully I’ll be prepared to sign off on this conference report, as will my Senate conferees, and hopefully we can get it to the president’s desk soon,” Hensarling said.

Trump last month indicated that he would consider unilateral action if lawmakers fail to deliver a bill “that better protects the crown jewels of American technology and intellectual property from transfers and acquisitions that threaten our national security.”

The efforts by Mnuchin to get the legislation moving led to Trump last month taking a less confrontational approach toward Chinese firms taking stakes in U.S. companies.

If the agreement holds, the legislation may be attached to the national defense spending bill that’s headed for passage later this month.

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