Ottawa blocks Chinese takeover of Aecon Group Inc for ‘national security’ reasons

Ottawa blocks Chinese takeover of Aecon Group Inc for ‘national security’ reasons

Ottawa blocks Chinese takeover of Aecon Group Inc for ‘national security’ reasons

Aecon it seems, is just too big and intertwined with Canada's security, that Ottawa fears the Beijing government might use it to make Canada conform to Chinese interests.

"As is always the case, we listened to the advice of our national security agencies throughout the multi-step national security review process under the Investment Canada Act", said Bains.

Ottawa announced a full national security review of the transaction in February as experts urged the government to proceed cautiously when weighing any investment bids by Chinese state firms and to be as transparent as possible in reviewing the proposed deal. The diplomat also denounced national security scrutiny of those acquisitions.

Aecon reported a backlog of $4.6 billion at the end of the first quarter, which included $910 million of new contract awards booked in the quarter.

Canada has blocked a Chinese state firm's proposed C$1.5 billion ($1.2 billion) takeover of construction company Aecon Group on national security grounds, underscoring rising wariness of Chinese firms buying up assets in Western countries. "Canada is open to global investment that creates jobs and increases prosperity, but not at the expense of national security", Bains added in the statement.

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In 2009, national security considerations were formally added as a consideration under Canada's foreign investment review process. "Premier Horgan now has more freedom of action to increase regulatory measures for Site C to ensure worker safety and restrict the inevitable, and to me, unacceptable, environmental damage", she said. In a paper the Institute published this month, Chen argues that a CCCI takeover of Aecon would imperil Canada's national interests: "The danger lies in our laziness in strategic thinking and refusal to take a long-term view".

"Chinese state-owned enterprises - they are not guilty".

The Conservatives had been pressing the Trudeau government for a formal national security review of the takeover. Aecon has contracts to carry out refurbishment and maintenance work on various nuclear facilities, as well as build and maintain several telecommunications lines. The deal had offered "considerable benefits", but the company will now move forward, including by reinstating a search for a new CEO, the statement said.

The acquisition of Aecon by the Chinese firm had already cleared most hurdles after the deal was backed by Aecon shareholders, and received court approval and clearance from Canadas competition regulator.

"We are happy that the government recognizes the fact that government-owned or controlled entities have no place to compete against private and publicly-traded companies in the Canadian construction industry", stated Mary Van Buren, president of the Canadian Construction Association.

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CCCI is the overseas investment and financing arm of China Communications Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC), one of the world's largest engineering and construction groups.

The World Bank in 2009 banned CCCI from bidding on construction projects for eight years due to a bid-rigging scandal in the Philippines.

The state-owned company also has been linked to the construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea - work which has led to heightened tensions between China and several other Asian countries.

Trudeau failed to kick off official trade talks with China during a recent trip to Beijing, after trying to include various social, environmental and gender-based stipulations into the talks.

A representative of CCCI, which is a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC), said Wednesday that it had no immediate comment about Ottawa's decision to block the takeover.

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