Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bernier Will Wait for Ministry's Advice on Alcan Bid (Update1)

Canadian Industry Minister Maxime
Bernier said he'll wait for recommendations from his ministry
before determining whether to allow Alcoa Inc.'s acquisition of
Montreal-based Alcan Inc.

Bernier can block the bid, which would be the country's
biggest takeover ever, if he determines it wouldn't provide
``net benefits'' to Canada's economy, such as more productivity
and research and development. Under current law, the department
has as many as 45 days to review the proposed transaction,
unless the government and Alcoa agree to extend the period.

``We want to be sure that each investment we have in this
country must be at the net benefit for this country,'' Bernier
told reporters today in Ottawa. ``I'm going to receive a
recommendation by my department on that, so we'll see.''

The Alcoa offer came amid growing concern among
politicians and some investors that too many firms in Canada
are being acquired by foreign competitors. The bid for Alcan
brings to almost 600 the number of announced foreign takeovers
in the past 16 months, worth a combined $156 billion, according
to Bloomberg data. That compares with just $43 billion in 2005.

While Quebec Industry Minister Raymond Bachand said
earlier this week that Alcoa may lose subsidies if jobs are
lost, Bernier hasn't commented on the bid, citing the
investment law's ``confidentiality provisions.''

Bernier also declined comment when asked today whether he
has any problems with foreign acquisitions in general.

Primary Metals

Alcoa promised May 7 to invest $5 billion in facilities
across Quebec, establish headquarters for the company's primary
metals unit in Montreal, and move some research and development
operations to the province.

The company, whose Canadian unit already has about 5,000
employees in Quebec and posted $3 billion in revenue last year,
said it would keep head offices in New York and Montreal, and
would list its shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Alcoa, the world's largest aluminum producer, said May 7
that it will offer $26.9 billion in cash and stock for Alcan to
become more competitive against rivals around the world. Alcoa
received financing commitments for $30 billion of loans for the
purchase, according to a regulatory filing.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Theophilos Argitis in Ottawa at
Alexandre Deslongchamps in Ottawa at

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