CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - A Canadian government review of the $15.1 billion Chinese bid for Nexen Inc will take security concerns into consideration in addition to a broader economic analysis of the transaction, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said on Thursday.
Toews’ remarks came in response to questions about the effect that reports of Chinese espionage might have on the government’s decision on whether to approve the proposed takeover of the Canadian oil producer by state-owned CNOOC Ltd.
“I can tell you that every transaction that is referred to cabinet is considered from a security and safety point of view,” Toews told reporters.
Industry Minister Christian Paradis announced on Thursday that the government’s “rigorous” review of the bid for Nexen was being extended by 30 days.
The concerns about the potential for Chinese espionage came to the fore on Monday with a U.S. congressional report urging U.S. companies to have no dealing with two big Chinese telecommunications equipment makers, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp,. The Chinese companies could enable Beijing to spy on communications and endanger vital systems, the report said.
A Canadian official suggested strongly on Tuesday that Huawei would not be welcome to help build a secure government communications network,[ID:nL1E8L9J60]. In addition, a former top Canadian intelligence official said he viewed Huawei as a threat even if in the private sector it is manageable.
Toews, asked about Huawei’s involvement in Canada, declined comment on any specific company in a security context but offered: ”I can tell you that the issue that has been raised by the Americans has also been raised in Canada and among many of our allies, including Great Britain.
“This is an issue that concerns us, in particular the security of our internet and infrastructure in that context. So that’s something that the government of Canada is very concerned about and continues to monitor very closely.”
Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; Writing by Randall Palmer; Editing by Frank McGurty