Canada bureaucrat looking at CNOOC deal to take new job

A woman walks into the Nexen building in downtown Calgary, Alberta, July 23, 2012. REUTERS/Todd Korol

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The top Canadian bureaucrat involved in examining a landmark $15.1 billion bid by China’s CNOOC Ltd for oil producer Nexen Inc will take up another government job on November 12, a hint that Ottawa will announce its decision on whether to approve the takeover before then.

Simon Kennedy is the director of Investment Canada, the section inside the federal industry ministry that reviews all major foreign takeover bids. He will become the top civil servant at the trade ministry, the government said on Monday as it announced a series of job changes within the bureaucracy.

Industry Minister Christian Paradis, who must decide whether the bid by state-owned CNOOC is of net benefit to Canada, extended the review period last week by 30 days to Nov 11. Paradis could extend it again, but only if both Nexen and CNOOC consent.

Paradis will make his decision based on advice from Kennedy’s team, which is talking to both CNOOC and Nexen to see whether a deal acceptable to Ottawa can be forged.

The CNOOC bid is controversial, since some in the governing Conservative Party are uneasy about the prospects of allowing a Chinese state-owned enterprise to buy up Canadian energy assets.

No one in the office of Paradis was immediately available for comment.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Peter Galloway