The Federal Treasurer is responsible for administering Australia’s foreign investment rules, with the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) advising the Treasurer in relation to the implementation of those rules. Foreign investment in Australian companies and assets can be subject to notification and approval of the Treasurer depending on the nature of the assets/business being transacted and their value.
Australia’s foreign investment rules are not intended to discourage or prohibit foreign investment in Australian industries, but provide a framework to ensure that investment in certain industries or assets is not contrary to Australia’s national interest.
If Australia’s foreign investment laws apply to an investment in a non-listed company, then it may be that the investor will be required to give notice prior to completing the transaction, or obtain the consent of the Treasurer (which may include conditions to be satisfied by the investor).
If an investor is required to give notice or obtain consent for a transaction but fails to do so, the Treasurer has the power to block or unwind transactions.
Separate laws also apply to investments in specific industries. For example, investments in telecommunications, broadcasting, and airports.