October 25, 2010
Nationalism and a Shakedown? More on BHP Billiton and Potash
As devoted readers know, we’ve spent a lot of time covering BHP Billiton’s hostile bid for Potash (see for example this, this, and this). The deal is a classic example of cultural issues in cross-border transactions and the risks that arise in deals where government approval plays an important role. Not only are the parties dropping cash on the people of Saskatchewan, but the provincial government, as Brian noted last week, is wading deeply into this deal. In addition to last week’s shenanigans, the Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is playing the nationalist card in today’s press release urging the Canadian federal government to block the deal, stating that BHP’s former Chair views Canada as a “Branch Office” and that
"[I]t's up to our federal government to ensure we retain Canadian control of our natural resources and that we don't become a ‘branch office,' like BHP apparently sees us," Wall said. "Mr. Argus' words and BHP Billiton's apparent view of Canada should give the federal government plenty of pause as it considers its response to the largest foreign takeover in Canadian history. If Australian business leaders like Mr. Argus are concerned about ceding too much control of Australia's natural resources to foreign control, shouldn't our government feel that same concern about Canada's resources?"
Some conservatives in Canada are now accusing Saskatchewan of becoming the next Venezuela (going a bit overboard, no??) for allegedly asking BHP to pay a billion dollars of potential lost taxes up front…Let the fun continue.
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