In August 2019, Genworth Financial, Inc. (Genworth) announced that it had agreed to sell its approximate 57% shareholding in Canadian subsidiary Genworth MI Canada Inc. (Genworth Canada) to Canadian headquartered Brookfield Business Partners L.P. (Brookfield) for approximately C$2.4 billion. Genworth Canada, through one of its subsidiaries, is Canada’s largest

Non-Canadian secured lenders should be aware that they may have a filing obligation under the Investment Canada Act (Act) if they acquire control of a Canadian business in connection with the realization on security granted for a loan or other financial assistance.

Until 2009, such transactions were entirely exempt from the Act. Specifically,

Investment Canada Act threshold exemption for European Union companies directly acquiring Canadian businesses increases to $1.5 billion effective September 21, 2017

Effective September 21, 2017, most of the provisions contained in the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Act), including those provisions amending the Investment Canada Act, will come into force.

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Canada’s planned increase to the generally applicable threshold for “net benefit” reviews under the Investment Canada Act (ICA) from $800 million to $1 billion became effective June 22, 2017. The new $ 1 billion threshold, which is calculated using the enterprise value of the Canadian business being acquired, should have the effect of exempting most

complex-664440_1280In what appears to be a dramatic shift in Canada’s foreign investment review policy, the federal government has recently approved the acquisition of ITF Technologies Inc. (“ITF”), a Montreal-based technology firm, by O-Net Communications Holdings Limited (“O-Net”), a Chinese developer of optical networking components, which is said to be effectively controlled

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Canadian government responses to two requests made by Fasken Martineau under the Access to Information Act (AIA) and the recent publication by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) of its Annual Report Investment Canada Act 2015-16 evidence that Canada’s power to conduct national security reviews under the Investment Canada Act (ICA) in respect of foreign investments in Canada has rarely been invoked during the almost 8 years that such power has existed.

Because of the confidentiality obligations imposed on government officials by the ICA and the sensitive nature of the assessment process which is intended to safeguard Canada’s national security interests, the Government historically has been reluctant to comment publicly on specific investments that it has subjected to national security reviews or on the review process in general.  For a considerable period of time, this reluctance extended to even providing statistics on the number of national security reviews that it had actually undertaken.


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On December 19, 2016, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (Minister) issued Guidelines on the National Security Review of Investments (Guidelines) in an effort to provide foreign investors and their advisers with a better understanding as to the circumstances in which a national security review might be initiated by the Government of Canada under the Investment Canada Act (Act).

Background

In February 2009, the Act was amended to provide the Government of Canada with the authority to review virtually any foreign investment that, in its opinion, could be injurious to Canada’s national security.  The national security review process is an additional clearance under the Act which is separate and distinct from the “net benefit to Canada” economic impact review process for which the Act was originally created.

In summary, if the Canadian Government, principally Canada’s security and intelligence agencies, identifies a potential national security threat associated with an investment in Canada by a non-Canadian, the Minister is advised of that concern and, after consultation with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness (Public Safety Minister), the Minister is responsible for referring the investment to the Governor in Council (GIC) if he agrees that the investment could be injurious to national security.  The GIC then determines whether a review should be ordered.  If the GIC orders a review, the Minister, after consultation with the Public Safety Minister, then conducts a formal review and, if necessary, submits a report to the GIC with his recommendations at which point the GIC has the authority to take any measures in respect of the investment that it considers advisable to protect national security.  These measures include permitting the investment to proceed with or without conditions or prohibiting the investment or, if already made, requiring the divestiture of the investment.

Unfortunately, little practical guidance was until now provided to foreign investors and their advisers as to the circumstances in which a national security review might be initiated.  This situation contrasted with national security reviews conducted by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States which had issued guidance on the types of investments that might be of concern to it.  The Guidelines which inform investors of the procedures that will be followed in the administration of the national security review process set out in Part IV.1 of the Act and in the National Security Review of Investments Regulations are intended to help remedy this lack of guidance.


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