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US businesses now have to 'think very carefully' about selling to foreign buyers, expert says

  • U.S. businesses will have to think twice about selling to foreign buyers after a deal involving Lattice Semiconductor was blocked, Mario Mancuso told CNBC.
  • "Chinese deals are getting approved. They will continue to get approved, but CFIUS [review] will always now be a question," he said.
  • He said while there may have been no obvious national security risks seen by the public, the U.S. government maintains "a pretty extensive intelligence function" that independently looks at these deals.

U.S. businesses will have to think twice about selling to foreign buyers after a deal involving Lattice Semiconductor was blocked, international trade and national security expert Mario Mancuso told CNBC on Thursday.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump issued an order to block the sale of the U.S. chipmaker to a group that involves a Chinese venture capital firm, citing national security reasons. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States reviewed the deal and recommended the action.

"You have to think very carefully in this environment about selling to certain buyers," said Mancuso, a former member of CFIUS.

"Chinese deals are getting approved. They will continue to get approved, but CFIUS will always now be a question. It may not always be an issue, but it will be a question."

Trump's decision is rare. It marks only the fourth time in the past 27 years that a president has blocked a deal like this.

In a statement, the White House said, "the national-security risk posed by the transaction relates to, among other things, the potential transfer of intellectual property to the foreign acquirer, the Chinese government's role in supporting this transaction, the importance of semiconductor supply chain integrity to the United States Government, and the use of Lattice products by the United States Government."

Mancuso told "Power Lunch" that while there may have been no obvious national security risks seen by the public, the U.S. government maintains "a pretty extensive intelligence function" that independently looks at these deals.

"There may be applications for technologies which to a commercial businessperson may look ... benign, reasonably so, but to the government that has access to different information, a different sift through which it views this information, they come to a different conclusion," he said.

And the U.S. isn't the only country scrutinizing these types of deals, he pointed out.

"This is a global trend. It's about making sure countries' economies are resilient and protective of their national security interests."

— CNBC's Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.