* Acknowledges possibility of extending deadline
* Says decisions will be fairly soon
* Nexen, Progress shares fall
OTTAWA, Dec 5 Canadian Industry Minister
Christian Paradis on Monday acknowledged the possibility of
extending the Dec. 10 deadline for deciding on CNOOC Ltd's
bid for Nexen Inc, but said he was not trying
to send a signal on the deal.
Paradis repeatedly told reporters he would not speculate on
the timing of his decision on whether to approve the Chinese
company's offer, or a bid by Malaysia's Petronas for
Progress Energy Resources Corp.
But when a journalist pointed out the Dec. 10 deadline for
deciding on the CNOOC offer, Paradis said: "This is a deadline
that could be extended, but once again, I won't speculate and
... I don't want to send a signal. When the decisions are made
and are ready to be announced, this will be done. Don't
interpret anything from what I'm saying here."
It has always been known the government could extend the
deadline beyond Dec. 10 if CNOOC and Nexen agree, but markets
have mostly assumed the deadline would stand.
Nexen and Progress shares fell immediately on his remarks.
When a reporter pointed out to him that Finance Minister Jim
Flaherty said hours earlier that the decisions would come down
"fairly soon", Paradis responded: "If Mr Flaherty says that, so
(then) it's fairly soon. But I think I'm the reviewer here so I
cannot send any signal, I don't want any speculation here. The
only thing I can say: it's under review and when we are ready to
go out I will go out."