On 2 March 2023, AST GVT issued proposals re register of foreign ownership.
- AST GVT issued exposure draft Treasury laws amendment (measures for future instruments) instrument 2023: register of foreign ownership of Australian assets.
- Also issued an accompanying exposure draft explanatory statement re the instrument.
- AST GVT stated that this instrument (hereafter, the regulations) amends the Foreign acquisitions and takeovers regulation 2015 (the principal regulations) to support operation of the Register of foreign ownership of Australian assets (the register).
- Said that the regulations are made under Foreign acquisitions and takeovers act 1975; on the same say, AST FIRB issued brief announcement with respect to the regulations.
- Follows AST Tax February 2023 draft data standard re foreign ownership.
- AST GVT stated that the regulations would prescribe circumstances in which foreign persons will be required to provide information that is to be included on the register.
- Said the regulatory burden is mitigated by continuing existing exemptions from some notification obligations and design of regime to minimize duplication of notifications.
- Together with Foreign acquisitions and takeovers act 1975, the regulations enhance AST GVT visibility of foreign ownership of Australian assets to aid policy consideration.
- Also assist efficient case processing by making more data available to decision-makers.
- Foreign person must notify registrar (known as giving a register notice) in registered circumstances; table in regulations prescribes when registered circumstances exist.
- However, said a registered circumstance will not exist or cease re an equitable interest.
- 5 types of registered circumstances that would require register notice are as follows.
- A foreign person acquiring a direct interest in a firm/business carrying on an Australian media business; a foreign government investor acquiring a direct interest in an Australian firm/business; a foreign government investor starting an Australian business.
- Also includes a foreign government investor acquiring an interest in a tenement; in addition, states that it includes a foreign government investor acquiring an interest of at least 10 percent in securities in a mining, production or exploration entity.
- Registered circumstances continue while relevant interest is held; cease when foreign person no longer holds interest or when firm/business the interest relates to ceases.
- The comment period for this consultation closes on 31 March 2023.