Senate bill to target foreign dealmakers

The measure would require proof of a U.S. benefit to any deals if passed as proposed

By David McLaughlin and Laurie Asseo

Foreign investors planning to buy U.S. companies must show their deals are in America’s "economic interest" to win approval, under legislation proposed by two senators.

A bill introduced by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio would prevent foreign acquisitions of American companies if they lead to job losses or other economic harm, the lawmakers said in a statement Wednesday.

"President Trump committed to putting a stop to U.S. industry’s being taken advantage of by foreign companies and countries," said Grassley. "This bipartisan legislation is an opportunity to fulfill that pledge."

The bill follows a record overseas buying spree by China in 2016 that amounted to more than $200 billion. Among last year’s deals was China National Chemical Corp.’s takeover of Swiss chemicals and seed company Syngenta AG, which has operations in the U.S. National security officials approved the deal, prompting criticism from Grassley. He called it "alarming" that a state-owned Chinese company was buying another stake in U.S. agriculture.

The proposal by Grassley and Brown comes as the legal framework for reviewing foreign purchases of U.S. companies is being debated in Washington. Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas is expected to introduce legislation that would revamp the process for conducting national security reviews of foreign deals.

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