Jason Waite, partner in the firm’s Litigation & Trial Practice and International Trade & Regulatory Groups, was quoted in a Bloomberg Business Week article titled “Levono Bid for IBM Unit Seen Sparking U.S. Security Review.” The article discusses the successful bid by China’s Lenovo Group Ltd. to buy the low-end server business of International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) and how that may trigger a U.S. security review that could slow or even scuttle a purchase.
According to the article, when Lenovo announced its purchase of IBM’s PC business in 2005, several lawmakers raised concerns about the transfer of sensitive technology or the possibility of industrial espionage as a result of the deal, which was eventually approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the inter-agency committee authorized to review transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign person to determine the effect of the transaction on the United States’ national security. As the article notes, upon receiving notification from parties to a potential transaction, CFIUS has 30 days to consider whether to approve the transaction or begin a 45 day investigation.
“Congress is a wild card,” Waite said.
“If they’re going to hold hearings on the sale of a sausage company—Smithfield—it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if they’re going to hold hearings on the sale of a component of IBM.”