OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Malaysian minister flew to Canada to discuss with federal officials the bid by Malaysian state-owned oil company Petronas PETR.UL for Progress Energy Resources Corp (PRQ.TO) after Canada initially turned it down, Canadian Industry Minister Christian Paradis said on Thursday.
Idris Jala, a minister without portfolio in the cabinet of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, met Deputy Industry Minister John Knubley and discussed the bid with Canadian officials after Paradis’ rejection of it on October 19.
“When I made the decision that it was not likely to be of net benefit to Canada, they had 30 days to make more representation. So this is what they did. I can confirm they did. I can confirm that the minister was there with the... team,” Paradis told Reuters.
“They made their case, and when I‘m ready to go with a decision, I will ... but I cannot speculate and cannot comment on what has been exchanged in substance. I‘m not allowed to do it.”
Paradis denied a Bloomberg report that said he himself had met the Malaysian minister.
Canada has been wrestling with how to deal with state-owned enterprises as it considers both Petronas’s C$5.2 billion ($5.3 billion) offer and a $15.1 billion bid by Chinese state-owned oil firm CNOOC Ltd (0883.HK) for Nexen Inc. NXY.TO
One concern is that companies owned by foreign governments might not operate strictly on a commercial basis. The Petronas deal has been caught up in the higher-profile CNOOC bid, which is more controversial because of anxiety over or distrust of China on the part of some Canadian politicians and decision makers.
Canada is widely expected to decide on both deals and on an overall framework for foreign investment by December 10, the deadline for deciding on the CNOOC bid.
Paradis declined to say whether, in the discussions with the various companies, the government had run or was running elements of the planned new framework by them to help them craft their responses.
“Once again, I cannot speculate about that. There have been discussions ongoing, and when I‘m ready to make a decision, I will,” he said.
Additional reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Leslie Adler and Andrew Hay