International Newsletter, July 2020
Foreign investments in France
The French foreign investment control regulation has been amended by two decrees dated 31 December 2019 and 27 April 2020.
From now on, transactions in the scope of French foreign investment control are (A) transactions consisting in either (i) the acquisition of control, (ii) the acquisition of a business line, or (iii) (for non EU/EEA buyers only) the acquisition of more than 25% of the share capital or voting rights, of (B) legal entities governed by French law and operating in sensitive sectors, mainly defense, aerospace, energy, transportation, public health, electronic communications, technologies, data centers, media, food safety and biotechnology, and (C) where the buyer is:
  •  an individual who is not French citizen;
  •  an individual who is a French citizen, but not a French resident for tax purposes;
  •  a legal entity which is governed by the laws of a foreign country; or
  •  a legal entity which is governed by French law, but controlled by one or more persons referred to under (a), (b) or (c) above.
In addition, the French government announced temporary COVID-related measures, which should be applicable from 1 July 2020 to 31 December 2020, lowering the threshold set out in paragraph (iii) above from 25% to 10% for listed target companies only.
Compliance – bribery and corruption
The 2016 Sapin II law aligned France’s anti-corruption regulation on the highest standards.
Sapin II created the French anti-corruption agency (“AFA”), which first aimed at providing companies with guidance on the effective implementation of these new anti-corruption rules.
AFA then conducted audits and its sanctions commission started to render decisions.
In a decision rendered in February 2020 against Imerys, AFA sanctions commission challenged the group’s anti-corruption programs, mainly on risk-mapping, code of conduct and accounting controls, and ordered the defaulting company to revise and improve its program. At this stage, no fine was imposed.
However, this decision should clearly be read as an educational work and a warning to Sapin II non-compliant companies.
Cybersecurity and data protection
In 2019, 39% of large European companies admitted having been victims of a cyber-attack.

With a huge number of people working remotely, notably because of the COVID pandemic, often with outdated security systems, cyber criminality will more than ever be a major concern.

Since GDPR’s entry into force in May 2018, the data controller of a company is responsible for the loss or theft of personal data. In any such case, the attacked company may be subject to financial sanctions, which may represent up to 4% of its annual worldwide turnover or EUR 20 million. French regulator CNIL has been increasingly applying fines on defaulting companies.

In this context, our Data Protection team has recently launched training programs in order to anticipate, act and react when facing a cyber-attack. 
In the current environment, many projects have been impacted or shelved, requiring the immediate repatriation of expats or causing serious disruptions on construction sites.

Legal issues arising from these situations require expedient handling, which regular courts cannot offer.

As a result, businesses are increasingly resorting to mediation and expert review mechanisms as an alternative means to settle their disputes.

A mediator is a neutral and impartial third party appointed by the parties to the dispute. His/her role is to resolve disputes and enable parties to seek a new means of collaboration. Contrary to an arbitrator, the mediator does not render a decision but is there to enable the parties to find a settlement.

Over the years, our firm has acquired specific expertise in the area of mediation and expert reviews for dispute settlement across a wide breadth of practice areas, in particular for issues related to international mobility, and real estate and construction matters (e.g. disputes between a lessor and a lessee, or between a contractor, a project manager and a client).
Please feel free to contact us to find out more about these topics
Recently, DELSOL Avocats completed the following transactions:
Advised MediaSchool on a major fundraising round
Advised DHI Group Telecom on the acquisition of Bienvenue Wifi
Advised BMG Group on a major fundraising round with Sagax
 Advised AEM Holdings on the acquisition of MU-TEST
Advised MoneyGlobe on its sale to
Small World
Advised AVISA Partners on a major fundraising round
Advised Réalités on its capital increase on Euronext Growth

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DELSOL Avocats
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69001 LYON
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