In 2018-19, the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) reviewed a significant number of high profile foreign investment applications, including Nippon Paint’s $3.8 billion takeover of the DuluxGroup. Over 8,500 applications were approved, representing potential investment of $231.0 billion.
The services sector attracted the highest value of approved investment, continuing an upwards trend that began in 2015-2016. The value of commercial real estate approvals increased from $39.5 billion in 2017-18 to $73.0 billion in 2018-19, while the manufacturing, electricity and gas sector also experienced strong growth.
The United States was the largest source country of proposed investment by value, followed by Canada, Singapore, Japan and China. The reduction in proposed investment value from China reflects an ongoing downward trend in the value of Chinese investment from its peak in 2015‑16. The United States recorded an increase in approved investment from $36.5 billion in 2017-18 to $58.2 billion in 2018-19, with significant increases in real estate and the services sector.
In terms of compliance, the Treasury completed nine business investment audits, representing $2.84 billion worth of proposed investment. The results of the audit program indicated that, largely, investors are meeting their obligations. The ATO completed 1,068 residential real estate investigations, identifying 600 properties that were in breach; the ATO has pursued divestments, retrospective approvals and variations to conditions in response to these breaches.