Globe and Mail: Public attitudes a big hurdle to foreign takeovers

November 21, 2012

SHAWN MCCARTHY – GLOBAL ENERGY REPORTER

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published 

Asian companies looking to acquire Canadian oil and gas producers are running into a wall of resource nationalism, according to a new survey that shows Canadians believe the country’s resource endowment represents a strategic asset that requires federal protection.

Those public attitudes underscore the difficult political challenges facing the federal government as it assesses whether CNOOC Ltd.’s bid for Nexen Inc. and Petronas’s proposed takeover of Progress Energy Resources Corp. represent a “net benefit” to Canada.

The Abacus Data Inc. poll, done for the Canadian American Business Council, found that 67 per cent of Canadians oppose companies from China buying domestically controlled natural resource companies, with similar levels of resistance to firms from Russia and India. And 87 per cent of respondents agreed that natural resources are a “strategic national asset” that requires special protection from Ottawa over who can control them.

“What the survey shows us is that this protectionist streak over our natural resources is not confined specifically to worry about China; we see it with Russia, we see it with India.” said David Coletto, chief executive officer of Abacus, which surveyed 1,066 Canadians.

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