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New regulations on foreign investment

A new Royal Decree regulating foreign investments in Spain and Spanish investment abroad has recently been passed by the Spanish government (Royal Decree 664/1.999, of April 23). The new Royal Decree, which came into force on May 24 1999, has fully liberalized, foreign investments in Spain subject to certain exemptions.

The main innovation is the removal of the requirement to obtain prior clearance from the Spanish authorities for certain investments (basically, those exceeding Pta500 million or coming from tax havens). The new Royal Decree merely establishes an obligation to report investments after their formalization.

There are however two exemptions to the new reporting regime.

Investments from tax havens, which need to be reported in advance (except for investments in negotiable securities or in companies where less than 50% of their capital owned by foreigners).

Investments in special areas (namely, air transportation, strategic minerals, mining, radio, television, telecommunications, gaming, private security, weapons and explosives for civil use and activities related to the national defence), which need to comply with the specific regulations applicable to these sectors.

In addition to the above, the new Royal Decree entitles the Council of Ministries to withdraw the liberalization regime for investments which may affect public order, health or security. The liberalization rules are already suspended for investments in activities related to the national defence, which need prior authorization from the Council of Ministries (except for investments in national defence listed companies which are liberalized up to 5% of their share capital).

Luis de Carlos / Montse Pérez Simeón

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