October 11, 2011
After testing the Canadian energy waters for several years with smaller investments that included joint ventures and minority interest bids, Chinese and other firms are growing increasingly assertive. There is a will to move beyond being a disinterested investor and into full ownership.
As that happens, foreign firms will find their energy deals increasingly scrutinized by the Canadian government, which must approve any large acquisition of a controlling interest under the Investment Canada Act. Yet outside of a potential bid for a Canadian icon – Suncor Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., or the like – even that scrutiny is unlikely to prove onerous, given the increasing comfort in both Calgary and Ottawa with Asian capital.
"Certainly the government has been at pains, repeatedly, to say that it welcomes Chinese investment in Canada," said Omar Wakil, who has represented companies working through the Investment Canada process.
And, he added, as the list of Asian acquisitions grows, "people are seeing that life goes on and these are things that we can live with. In fact, they bring a lot of benefits to the Canadian economy, particularly at a time of economic recession."
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