UPDATE 1-Canada's Liberals, NDP say would clarify foreign takeover rules

Tue Sep 29, 2015 5:00pm EDT
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(Adds Conservative comment)

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."

"We have made a clear distinction between free market private investment, and entities controlled or influenced by foreign governments," Conservative spokesman Chris McCluskey said in a statement. "When it comes from foreign governments, we have to make sure that Canada's best interests are protected."   Continued...