2. Overview of Regulatory Field
2.3 Restrictions on Foreign Investments
By and large, direct inward investments are usually freely available. Apart from restrictions that may be equally relevant for Austrian investors (eg, notification duties in cases of acquisition of certain share percentages in Austrian listed companies and approval/non-prohibition of the acquisition of certain qualified shareholdings in the financial sector), restrictions that may in particular also have relevance to foreign investors mainly relate to:
- real estate: the acquisition of real estate assets by foreign (non-EEA) investors may be subject to notification or approval by regional land transfer authorities. Since each Austrian federal state regulates this matter individually, different provisions apply depending on the location of the real estate in question, the type of real estate and whether the acquisition may be triggered by an asset deal or also by a share deal, or even by an indirect change of control in a company that owns property;
- sensitive industries: under the Foreign Trade Act 2011 (Außenwirtschaftsgesetz 2011) acquisitions of 25% or more of the voting rights in a domestic company by foreign (non-EU/EEA/Swiss) investors require advance approval by the Austrian Ministry for Economic Affairs, provided that the target belongs to a protected key industry. Such sensitive industries include sectors relating to the internal and external security of Austria, the public order and safety as well as procurement services and crisis prevention (among others defence, security, energy, water supply, telecommunications, healthcare and infrastructure) (see 2.6 National Security Review, below); or
- money laundering and dealings with blacklisted states and individuals: further restrictions may stem from anti-money laundering legislation and KYC requirements, as well as in relation to intended transactions with blacklisted/sanctioned foreign states and/or individuals.