Canada's Liberals, NDP say would clarify foreign takeover rules

Tue Sep 29, 2015 2:40pm EDT
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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Canada's Liberal and New Democratic parties, vying to replace the governing Conservatives in a tight three-way election race, both say they would clarify rules around foreign corporate takeovers if they win.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, campaigning in Winnipeg on Tuesday, said foreign investors need clearer rules around takeovers.

"(Conservative Prime Minister Stephen) Harper continues to make these decisions on a political basis rather (than) on a level of clarity and that's why quite frankly we're seeing global investment hesitant to engage," he said.

Canada requires foreign bids for Canadian firms worth C$600 million ($447.76 million) or more in enterprise value to undergo a review of whether they provide to Canada a "net benefit," a term never fully explained.

On that basis, Harper's Conservatives blocked in 2010 a takeover bid by BHP Billiton Plc for Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc.

In 2012, Harper approved a $15.1 billion bid by China's state-controlled CNOOC Ltd for energy company Nexen, but banned state-owned companies from further oilsands takeovers except in "exceptional circumstances."

There is uncertainty whether the Canadian government would allow a foreign company to buy a major tech company like Blackberry Ltd, which is perennially rumored to be a takeover target.

Conservative Party officials could not immediately be reached for comment on plans for takeover rules if they are returned to power in the Oct. 19 election.   Continued...