Nexen deal ends foreign state-owned purchases in the oilsands, say feds

Credits: REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic


OTTAWA - After approving two major buyouts of Canadian energy companies by foreign, state-owned enterprises, the federal government is introducing new rules to all but block further attempts by similar companies to buy their way into the oilsands.

"Foreign state control of oilsands development has reached the point at which further such foreign state control would not be of net benefit to Canada," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday.

Harper says future attempts by foreign state-owned companies to take control of a Canadian oilsands business will be approved only in "exceptional" circumstances.

"What we're doing here is preventing a situation "¦ where in the name of an open globally competitive economy we can see the transformation of our economy into a state-run economy - just a state-run economy not by our government," said Harper.

The new rules also crack down on examinations of state-owned enterprises trying to take over Canadian companies in other sectors.

The industry minister reviewing foreign investments will now examine how much control or influence state companies would probably have over the Canadian businesses they're buying, and over the industry they're buying into.

The minister would also look at how much control a foreign government would gain over the acquired Canadian business.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives will raise the threshold for reviews of private, foreign companies seeking to buy up a Canadian business to $1 billion, though the threshold remains $330 million for state enterprises.

New rules mean the minister will also be able to get an extension for national security reviews of foreign investments.

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