Canadians oppose CNOOC bid for Nexen, poll finds

Barry Jackson, (L) chairman of the board and Kevin Reinhart interim President and CEO talk before the start of the Nexen special meeting of shareholders in Calgary, Alberta September 20, 2012. REUTERS/Todd Korol

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Nearly seven out of 10 Canadians oppose approval of the $15.1 billion bid by China’s CNOOC Ltd for Canada’s Nexen Inc, according to a poll released on Thursday, hours ahead of the results of a shareholder vote on the deal.

The Sun News-Abacus poll had 69 percent of respondents saying the government should not approve the deal, up 12 percentage points since a similar survey in August. Eight percent said they backed approval.

The poll was published on the same day Nexen shareholders were scheduled to vote in Calgary on CNOOC’s $27.50-a-share offer. They are expected to approve it but it is still not certain whether Ottawa will give it its blessing.

Despite the polling data, most members of Parliament report that they have not received many letters or calls from their constituents about the proposed transaction.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said public opinion would be one factor the government would consider in weighing whether the bid is of net benefit to Canada.’

Abacus surveyed 1,208 participants online from September 14-18, a sample size that carries a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Frank McGurty