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May 11, 2012

Establishes review mechanism for transactions in strategic industries

On 15 May 2012, the Law of 11 May 2012, No 56 entered into effect. It converted in law, with modifications, the Decree-Law of 15 March 2012 and establishes a mechanism for government review of transactions regarding assets of companies operating in the sectors of defence or national security, as well as in strategic activities in the energy, transport and communications sectors. The law also abolishes the former Italian Golden Share Law. The new law accords special powers to the government in cases where an acquisition or other form or transaction triggers a threat of severe prejudice to essential interests of the State. Special powers can be exercised both towards national or foreign investors or investments, except in case of veto to majority takeovers by buyers from outside the EU in the energy, transport and telecommunications sectors (see below). In the defence and national security sectors, the Government may act through the exercise of special powers as follows: the imposition of specific conditions on acquisitions of participations in companies engaged in strategic activities; the veto on decisions regarding those companies or ownership structure; the opposition to the acquisition of ownership in such companies by subjects other than the Italian State, Italian public entities or entities under their control, in cases where these acquisitions would lead to voting rights that may compromise interests of defence or national security. In the sectors of energy, transport and communications the government’s special powers consist in: the veto on or the authorisation of, under specific conditions, decisions, acts or operations concerning strategic assets; the imposition of specific conditions to make affective acquisitions by non EU investors of companies owning strategic assets. In exceptional cases and when the above-mentioned acquisition determines control rights, the Government has the right of opposition to the entire acquisition by buyers from outside the EU (in compliance with article 49 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union). The law further sets out which authorities carry out the risk assessment and the criteria to follow and define timeframes and obligations on companies to provide information to the government about the investment project.

Type: Entry and establishment (Approval and admission)

Industry: Manufacturing (Other manufacturing), Services (Electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply, Transportation and storage, Telecommunications)