Canada sticks to formula on CNOOC despite CFIUS refile

Wed Nov 28, 2012 6:17pm EST
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada said on Wednesday it would decide soon on two big foreign takeover bids for domestic energy companies, despite possible delays in approval by U.S. regulatory authorities.

"We intend obviously to take decisions on a couple of particular matters along with some more general guidance to the marketplace. We intend to do that in the near future and that's all I'll say about that," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

Harper has previously spoken about deciding in the "not-too-distant future", the "very near future" and "very soon".

Harper's government is studying a $15.1 billion proposal by China's CNOOC Ltd (0883.HK: Quote) to buy Nexen Inc NXY.TO NXY.N and a C$5.2 billion ($5.3 billion) bid by Malaysia's Petronas PETR.UL for Progress Energy Resources Corp PRQ.TO.

Nexen's share price has been under pressure because of concern that a CNOOC-Nexen announcement on Tuesday that they had pulled their application for U.S. approval and then refiled it might mean a longer wait before the deal can be consummated.

Canadian Industry Minister Christian Paradis declined to answer when asked if the new review, under the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), would mean Canada would delay its own approval process.

But Harper's subsequent remarks to reporters suggested that Ottawa was not planning to push back its timetable, and that the decisions on CNOOC and Petronas would come at the same time as an overall framework on foreign investment.

Pundits have assumed that all three decisions will come by the December 10 deadline for deciding on whether to allow the CNOOC bid, although technically the government can extend that deadline if CNOOC and Nexen agree.   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa November 20, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Wattie