China trade minister to visit Canada, could mention CNOOC bid

Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:24pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming will visit Canada next week as Ottawa deliberates whether to approve a landmark $15.1 billion takeover of oil producer Nexen Inc by state-owned Chinese oil company CNOOC Ltd.

CNOOC said it did not expect Chen to raise the sensitive takeover bid during talks with the Canadian government. Canada China Business Council president Peter Harder, however, said he would not be surprised if Chen mentioned it in a speech to his group next Tuesday.

Although Canada is seeking substantial foreign investment in its oil and gas industry, the CNOOC move is raising concern inside cabinet, where some members are wary of letting a Chinese state-owned enterprise buy up domestic assets.

Industry ministry officials are looking closely at the bid to determine whether it is of net benefit to Canada.

Separately, Canada's spy service said some foreign state-owned enterprises could pose a threat to national security. It did not mention China by name.

Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast gave little away when asked about a planned meeting with Chen in the next few days.

"I do expect it will be a productive meeting as we move the Canada-China relationship forward," he told reporters on Friday.

Nexen - whose shareholders voted to accept the CNOOC deal on Thursday - said it was unaware of Chen's visit.   Continued...