Canada ministers meet as CNOOC-Nexen deadline looms

Fri Dec 7, 2012 1:25pm EST
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* Government has until Dec. 10 to rule on CNOOC bid

* Deadline could be extended if both firms agree

* Ottawa must decide that bid is of net benefit to Canada

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA, Dec 7 (Reuters) - A powerful Canadian cabinet committee which has been studying CNOOC Ltd's $15.1 billion bid for domestic oil producer Nexen Inc met on Friday as the deadline loomed for Canada's ruling on the proposed Chinese takeover.

Ministers who attended the morning meeting offered no clues on their agenda, or on whether CNOOC had been under discussion. But the government has until the end of Dec. 10 to deliver its verdict on a bid that triggered a rare divide inside the ruling Conservative Party, where some legislators are wary of letting a Chinese state-owned enterprise buy Canadian energy assets.

If the deal is approved, it will be the largest successful foreign takeover by a Chinese firm.

Although the Canadian cabinet has no formal role in approving the deal, a powerful subcommittee chaired by Prime Minister Stephen Harper is following the affair closely.

Asked what topics were on the agenda, Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan replied: "There's only one."   Continued...