Canada says it is still examining options on potential CNOOC bid

City A.M. Reporter
THE Canadian government is still mulling its options as deadlines near on two proposed foreign takeovers of domestic energy companies, but an official offered no clues on when or how Ottawa would announce the hotly debated decisions.

Andrew MacDougall, spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, did not comment on a report that the federal government might want China’s CNOOC to sell the seven per cent stake that takeover target Nexen holds in the large Syncrude oil sands joint venture, because fellow Chinese company Sinopec Group has a nine per cent stake in it.

“The government is examining its options,” he said by email.

The Conservative government is trying to balance the need for foreign investment to develop natural resources with concern that China and other countries could snap up a big chunk of the energy sector, and that state-owned firms might not play by free-market rules.

It faces a deadline of 10 December for deciding on whether to allow the $15.1bn (£9.4bn) Nexen bid. A separate decision is pending on a bid by Malaysia’s Petronas for Progress Energy Resources, while Ottawa also promises to clarify its overall guidelines on foreign investment.