Opposition say Ottawa courting trouble on foreign takeovers rules

by Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press Posted Sep 17, 2012 6:35 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email OTTAWA – The Harper government is again under pressure to spell out clear rules on foreign investment following yet another spurned bid and in advance of the next big ask — the proposed Chinese acquisition of a major Canadian oil company.NDP and Liberal critics blasted the government for sitting on the issue for two years, saying they now are facing a decision this fall whether to accept China National Offshore Oil Corp.’s (CNOOC) $15.1-billion deal to buy Calgary-based Nexen Inc. without clear guidelines.Earlier Monday, U.S.-based Lowe’s withdrew its bid to acquire the Rona hardware chain, citing the Quebec company’s opposition.But analysts said another consideration was likely the political barriers put up from both leading parties in the province, including the Parti Quebecois minority government, that might have made approval under the Investment Canada Act problematic.“We don’t know what the Canadian government would have done with the Rona takeover, although clearly the government of Quebec was against it and that would have been an important factor in the process,” said Oliver Borgers, a partner in McCarthy Tetrault’s competition law group.The act calls for a demonstration of a “clear benefit” to Canada, but is unclear what that means beyond that a deal would create or preserve jobs, and generally benefit the economy.And that’s the problem, say critics — the ambiguity and secrecy of the process allows for too much discretion, including political pressures.“Ad hockery is what you get when you get when the government is negligent in setting the framework,” said Liberal deputy leader Ralph Goodale, a former finance minister.“What you’ve got is complete and utter chaos because it will all boil down to what Stephen Harper had for breakfast this morning and how he’s feeling about it.”The question of political factors coming into play was given more fuel Monday when Conservative MP Rob Anders said he opposed the Nexen takeover, referring to China as a “non-benevolent country.” He added that other MPs in the caucus agree.NDP energy and natural resources critic Peter Julian called on the government to conduct public hearings on the Nexen bid, accusing the government of listening mostly to CNOOC lobbyists.Although he did not answer the question directly, Industry Minister Christian Paradis said the Nexen deal will be “scrutinized very closely.” He added that what the NDP was proposing would “deter any form of investment in the country.”Following the 2010 rejection of BHP Billiton’s bid to buy Potash Corp. (TSX:POT), Ottawa suggested it would clear the confusion of what constitutes “net benefit” under the act, but has not issued new guidelines.Instead during the spring, Paradis tripled the threshold of purchases that would need to be reviewed to firms with $1 billion in asset value, and said Ottawa would be more open with the reasons behind its decisions.Opposition parties say the government is inviting trouble because more bids to buy into Canada’s rich resources sectors are almost certainly to occur.“This is a watershed. The size and scope of this takeover brings us into a whole new range in terms of potential acquisitions of Canadian energy companies,” said Julian. “So the whole issue around net benefit and how the government treats these applications has to be set down.”Julian said the current approach is not fair to Canadians, who have no faith in the process, or investors, who fear a strong public reaction will scuttle their bid.But despite some high-profile rejections in the last few years, there seems to be no loss of appetite from foreign investors for Canadian properties. One reason is that Canada’s relatively healthy economy and sound fiscal position has made it a safe heaven for investors.Borgers said to some extent investors expect some push-back when they seek to purchase assets in foreign countries.“I don’t think a couple of rejections is going to taint our reputation,” he said. “If you look to many of the large, important economies around the world, there have been many deals rejected and Canada would not be perceived to be far outside that pattern.” Opposition say Ottawa courting trouble on foreign takeovers rules read more

Womens lacrosse Buckeyes rebound quickly beat California 148

Sophomore midfielder Mackenzie Maring advances play in the offensive zone against California Feb. 26 at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Credit: James King II | Lantern reporterThe Ohio State women’s lacrosse coach Alexis Venechanos said the good part about their loss on Friday was that they had another game on Sunday. In a game in which turnovers came early and often against Stanford, Venechanos said they were going to learn, and the Buckeyes did just that.The Buckeyes (4-1) shutout California (1-3) for roughly the first 20 minutes in their 14-8 routing of the Golden Bears. The win gives OSU its eighth win over California in its now 11 matchups against the Golden Bears.“I was really proud of our defense,” Venechanos said. “It was a really tough loss on Friday night and you always want to see how your team responds, and I think we stepped up. … (California) is a good team, we definitely improved. It was a good solid win.”OSU broke the game open with five consecutive goals to start. Senior midfielder Paulina Constant, freshman midfielder Liza Hernandez and sophomore midfielder Mackenzie Maring all scored unassisted goals to begin the game. Hernandez would then assist on junior attacker Molly Wood’s eleventh goal of the season, which was followed by one more goal from sophomore midfielder Erika Kesselman.“All we need to do is come out with a W,” Wood said. “I was so happy with how we came out today, with what happened on Friday. We put that behind us and we came out strong.”California would attempt to surge back into the game, with two goals from junior attacker Kate Mattimore fueling a 3 goal outburst for the Golden Bears. Wood added two more goals for the Buckeyes, giving them the 7-3 lead at the half. Mattimore and Wood would both collect hat tricks on the day, Wood’s third consecutive game with one.California sophomore goalie Jenny Wilkens saw a barrage of shots with 13 of OSU’s 15 first-half shots on goal. And on the defensive end, the Buckeyes showed up strong, forcing California into 11 of its 18 turnovers in the game.“We wanted to give them a little bit of pressure and see if they could handle it,” sophomore midfielder Christina Turner said. “And we realized that they didn’t really like being pressured a lot, so we decided to amp up our energy and make them turn the ball over.”The Golden Bears would strike first in the second half on Mattimore’s third of the day, reeling in OSU’s lead to three. The Buckeyes, however, would respond with three of their own, giving them their largest lead of the day at 10-4. “We’re still a fairly young team,” Venechanos said. “We’re still trying to learn to play with a lead, play when it’s close, play when you’re behind and that’ll just take experience.”California’s leading points-getter, senior attacker Jena Fritts, would try to give her team some momentum by scoring two goals around Kesselman’s second goal of the day. Hernandez would then add another for OSU, completing her hat trick and giving her a team high, 15 goals on the year.Fritts would get lost behind the Buckeyes defense, netting her third goal of the day at the 14:16 mark in the second half. Then the Golden Bears would pull to within four of OSU when freshman midfielder Noelani Murayama fired in her second of the game.Both ends of the experience spectrum would score for the Buckeyes, with Wood grabbing her fourth of the day and freshman midfielder Sage Darling scoring her second of the season. Darling’s goal with 7:32 remaining would be the last score of the contest, giving OSU the 14-8 lead and eventual win. This was the final matchup in the Buckeyes’ three-game homestand and is the last time they’ll lace them up in Columbus until Mar. 18. OSU heads on the road for four games, the first of which will be on Friday at 3 p.m. against Duquesne.“We’ve got different styles we’re going to have to be ready for,” Venechanos said. “We’ll start looking at our own tape tomorrow and see what we need to work on. We have a couple of days of practice before we head out, so we’re going to have to be efficient.” read more