RIM is "national jewel" worthy of support: minister

Fri Dec 2, 2011 4:39pm EST
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By Phil Wahba

NEW YORK (Reuters) - BlackBerry smartphone maker Research In Motion is a national "jewel" worthy of support, Canada's industry minister said on Friday, insisting that Canada is open to foreign investment even though it blocked a $39 billion potash deal last year.

"RIM is a Canadian jewel," Christian Paradis told Reuters in an interview in New York on Friday, speaking in his native French. "I think we have to support companies like RIM."

Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM said on Friday no longer expects to meet its full-year earnings forecast, in the latest in a series of setbacks that have fueled speculation the faltering smartphone maker could become a takeover target.

Paradis declined to say whether the Canadian government would block any foreign takeover of the company, calling it "speculation."

Still, he said, "What I hope for is that RIM be able to be on a path of prosperity. As for speculation, we'd have to see what happened and consider if the law would apply."

But Paradis spoke of the importance of having business friendly tax policies to make Canada enticing, pointing to a decision by coffee shop chain Tim Hortons to move its headquarters back to Canada in 2009 after 14 years away.

Paradis was in New York to promote Canada as a country open for business and a place that welcomes foreign investors. That reputation took a big hit in 2010 when the government blocked a proposed purchase of Potash Corp of Saskatchewan by Australian mining company BHP Billiton.

The minister said the Conservative government's decision to stop BHP from acquiring the world's largest fertilizer maker has not come up in his conversations with U.S. executives.   Continued...