A foreign direct investment (FDI) is a controlling ownership in a business enterprise in one country by an entity based in another country.
Foreign direct investment is distinguished from portfolio foreign investment, a passive investment in the securities of another country such as public stocks and bonds, by the element of "control". According to the Financial Times, "Standard definitions of control use the internationally agreed 10 percent threshold of voting shares, but this is a grey area as often a smaller block of shares will give control in widely held companies. Moreover, control of technology, management, even crucial inputs can confer de facto control."
The origin of the investment does not impact the definition as an FDI: the investment may be made either "inorganically" by buying a company in the target country or "organically" by expanding operations of an existing business in that country.