Lowe's hires Canadian lobbyist for Rona deal
(Reuters) - Lowe's Cos Inc (LOW.N), the No.2 U.S.-based home improvement retailer, has hired a lobbyist to work on its proposed C$1.8 billion acquisition of Rona Inc (RON.TO), aiming to overcome political opposition to a bid for its Quebec-based rival.
It retained Robert Evershed of Prospectus Associates to lobby the federal government, effective August 20, according to Canada's federal lobbying registry.
He will work on gaining "approval by the Minister of Industry of the client's acquisition of Rona Inc," the entry says.
"I can confirm that Lowe's works with a number of consultants, including Prospectus Associates. As with any such relationship, we are unable to discuss details," said Lowe's spokeswoman Julie Yenichek in an email.
Mooresville, North Carolina-based Lowe's took its proposed bid of Rona public at the end of July, and was immediately criticized by the provincial government in Rona's home province of Quebec. The company has not made a formal takeover offer, and Rona is on record opposing the deal.
The deal has become an issue in the mostly French-speaking province's September 4 election, as both the governing Liberal party and the separatist Parti Quebecois promise to push for measures to curb foreign takeovers.
Rona's shares have consistently traded below Lowe's proposed C$14.50-a-share offer, and the gap widened early last week as Lowe's told investors a deal was "not imminent" and a group of Rona's dealers criticized Lowe's.
Down 0.6 percent at C$12.47 on Thursday, Rona's stock price signals the market's skepticism about the chances of a successful deal.
(Reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto and Dhanya Skariachan in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty)
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