(Corrects size of bid to $15.1 billion)
* Canada NDP says fears possible tsunami of foreign bids
* Government deciding whether to approve CNOOC bid for Nexen
* NDP cites lack of transparency in approval process
* Nexen shares lose one percent after comments
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA, Oct 4 Canada's main opposition party on
Thursday demanded that the government reject a landmark $15.1
billion bid by Chinese state-owned CNOOC Ltd for oil
producer Nexen Inc, saying it could provoke "a tidal
wave" of foreign takeovers.
The comments by the center-left New Democrats (NDP)
highlighted that there are still risks to the CNOOC bid, China's
largest ever proposed foreign takeover, and helped knock almost
one percent off Nexen shares.
The NDP has no power to block the bid, but Conservative
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Ottawa will take public
opinion into account when deciding whether the proposed takeover
is in the net benefit of Canada.
Some legislators in the ruling Conservative Party are also
uneasy about the idea of a Chinese state-owned enterprise buying
up more Canadian oil assets. Canada has the world's third
largest proven reserves of oil and is a major energy exporter.
NDP natural resources spokesman Peter Julian complained the
process to determine net benefit was far too vague and would not
deal with questions about issues like jobs, human rights,
national security and the environment.
"Public confidence in the government's ability to actually
handle this transaction fairly, to do it in a transparent way,
has eroded," he told a news conference.
"The New Democratic Party cannot support the rubber stamping
of the CNOOC takeover of Nexen. We cannot see the net benefit."
Nexen shares, began to drop after Julian started speaking at
10 am (1400 GMT) were at C$24.99, down from C$25.17 previously.
They later slipped further to C$24.96, while the benchmark
Toronto index was by 0.6 percent.
Fund managers and analysts still expect Ottawa to approve
the deal, albeit with conditions.
Julian, who wants the government to hold public hearings on
the bid, cited what he said was the risk of "a number of other
takeover deals that are pending. Some people have said it's a
tidal wave of takeovers that are coming down the pike".
Industry Minister Christian Paradis, ultimately responsible
for deciding whether to approve the CNOOC bid, said the NDP's
actions were reckless and irresponsible.
"By attempting to politicize the review process they are
creating the kind of uncertainty that scares off the investment
Canadian companies rely on to create jobs, innovate and
compete," he said in a statement.
The government says the energy patch needs C$630 billion
($643 billion) in investment over the next decade alone and much
of it will have to come from outside Canada.
The NDP said it could not support the deal as it was
currently structured. Julian did not say exactly what changes he
was looking for.
The New Democrats, Canada's most left wing mainstream party,
unexpectedly became the official opposition for the first time
The NDP said its stance on Nexen was based both on the deal
itself and on broader concerns about the pace of development in
northern Alberta's oil sands, one of the world's biggest crude
oil deposits, where Nexen has a small stake.
"We have to be strategic. The resources are going to be
there," NDP industry spokeswoman Helene LeBlanc told reporters.
"They're not going away, and I think we can be strategic...(on)
the rate of development of the natural resource."
The Conservative-dominated House of Commons rejected an NDP
motion on Wednesday that demanded public consultations on the
CNOOC deal. The vote was 145 against the motion to 125 for it.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren, Randall Palmer and Louise Egan;
Editing by Janet Guttsman)