Unlike Canada, which vets investments to ensure they provide a net benefit to the economy, the United States has separated the screening of deals on competition and security grounds.
Two defense industry executives said the Obama administration would have to carefully weigh the possible security risks against the probable backlash from Britain, Germany and France if Washington tried to block the deal.
“The political ramifications would be huge,” said one, who was not authorized to speak on the record.
Foreign interest groups argue CFIUS has already taken a tougher stand on takeovers, especially in the cyber field, and are likely to campaign against any decision to widen its role. Also, one of the industry executives said the number of cases that were blocked by CFIUS was historically quite small.
“Foreign investment is a big source of U.S. economic growth employing 5 million Americans, so it is critically important the committee does remain focused on national security,” said Nancy McLernon, head of the Organization for International Investment, a Washington-based lobby group for the units of non-U.S. firms.
“You need to stop there or the U.S. economy overall can be a victim to shenanigans by competitors.”
Boeing and Airbus declined to comment on the review process.