MTS head says it had no signs that Ottawa was going to nix Allstream deal AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email OTTAWA – A surprise decision to reject the foreign purchase of a small Canadian telecom player left observers confused Tuesday, including the chief executive of Manitoba Telecom Services who said no one understands Ottawa’s rules on acquisitions.MTS chief executive Pierre Blouin said he has received no explanation on why the federal government quashed the sale of his firm’s Allstream division to the Egyptian investment group Accelero Capital for $520 million late Monday.In a statement, Industry Minister James Moore cited “national security” concerns, but Blouin said the government never mentioned any such issue during a five-month approval process.Nor has the government given him the ability to restructure the deal to satisfy their requirements, he said, adding that other companies could become discouraged with making future investments in the telecom sector if there is not more clarity.“Not only do foreign investors not know what the rules are, companies in Canada don’t know what the rules are either,” said Blouin.“It would be very good and needed for the telecom industry of Canada to have the rules of the game clarified as we move forward.”Foreign investment experts said the decision places a large question mark over the repeated refrain from Conservative government ministers that Canada is open for business.Walid Hejazi, a business professor with Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, notes that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development already rates Canada above average in terms of its restrictions.Since the Conservatives came to power in 2006, the Harper government has repeatedly tweaked the Investment Canada Act, making it more restrictive each time, including a near ban on majority acquisitions in the oil patch by state-owned enterprises.The government also rejected two previous takeovers — that of Macdonald, Dettwiler and Associates by an American suitor, again for national security reasons, and of Potash Corp. by Australia’s BHP Billiton.Last fall, it kept international energy companies — China’s CNOOC and Malasiya’s Petronas — dangling for months before finally giving the go-ahead of their acquisitions, while also amending to rules so that such deals would be unlikely in the future.The puzzle with the latest rejection, said Hejazi, is that the government had made efforts to open up the domestic telecom sector to foster competition, all but begging U.S. giant Verizon into the space to challenge Canada’s Big Three — Rogers (TSX:RCI.B), Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus (TSX:T).As well, the company it ruled out for national security reasons — Accelero Capital — had already been involved in Canada as the majority investor in Wind Mobile.In a television interview, Employment Minister Jason Kenney said national security trumps all other considerations, including job creation.“We have to listen to the advice that we get from intelligence and police security agencies (and) that’s what we’re doing,” he said.Allstream maintains Internet services for sensitive Canadian government installations and facilities, added Kenney, and the government has decided not “to allow a foreign company (for) which there are concerns” to tap into those services.Ian Lee of Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business said he believes Canada’s murky investment rules appear to be emerging with every decision.“If you are a private, for-profit company from an OECD country, you are going to get the green light. However, if you are from a country that is not an ally, such as Russia, China or the Middle East, or you are a state-owned enterprise, you are either going to get a red light or a yellow light,” he said.Lee added the Harper government also puts great store on security, saying it might have been concerned that the Allstream network could have facilitated spying activities in Canada.Last week, CIBC executive Jim Prentice, a former foreign industry minister himself, warned that the government was chasing away needed foreign investment with its new regulations against state-owned enterprises buying into the oil patch.He cited figures that showed investment inflows into the oil and gas sector had fallen off a cliff so far this year, to $2 billion from $27 billion during the same period last year. As well, mergers and acquisitions dropped to $8 billion from $66 billion, and Chinese investment had all but dried up.Shares in Manitoba Telecom (TSX:MBT) fell $2.74, or 8.47 per cent, to close at $29.62 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. by Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press Posted Oct 8, 2013 6:04 pm MDT read more

first_imgEarlier this week, posted on this website, A.S. Bulygin Rusal’s CEO sent an open letter to Norilsk Nickel’s CEO V.I. Strzhalkovsky, who has now responded with an open letter, as below:Dear Alexander Stanislavovich,On behalf of OJSC MMC Norilsk Nickel I would like to express our appreciation of the consideration you have given to the issues of improving the environment in the regions where the company operates. I deem it necessary that your letter should generate a response in the public domain that would state the facts and figures that truly reflect the actual state of affairs and the serious attitude MMC Norilsk Nickel takes in addressing environmental issues.It is worth mentioning that presently MMC Norilsk Nickel is implementing a comprehensive environmental program that involves retrofitting of production facilities, incremental shutdowns of outdated operations, reduction of pollutants emissions into the atmosphere and efficient management of water resources. The company intends to spend about 36 billion rubles in the period from 2007 to 2015 to support its environmental initiatives.In view of the above the feasibility study that you kindly proposed to administer seems unnecessary. Your confidence regarding the success of the feasibility study proposed for implementation by UK RUSAL experts is based on your assumption that aluminium and nickel production processes are identical; however, the only similarity between them is that both processes belong to nonferrous metals industry. This means that, according to experts, the successful experience of addressing environmental issues in aluminium production will not be just as successful when applied to the environmental component of nickel production.Unfortunately, UK RUSAL as major shareholder of MMC Norilsk Nickel has access to a significant amount of data about the company, and deliberately or otherwise, used inaccurate data in an attempt of expressing a “catastrophic” outlook on the situation. Public criticism of the company and accusations of negligence based on inauthentic data seems to be misleading for those unaware of the state of affairs.As you may know, the environmental issues experienced in Norilsk today are dating back to the Soviet times where environmental management aspects were disregarded in construction of industrial operations. Any fast-track solution to these issues would be inefficient unless existing production operations were suspended; the consequences of this would strongly affect the society and jeopardise the existence of the city of Norilsk.Nevertheless, today we see environmental improvements in Norilsk driven by activities implemented by the company. Both Norilsk residents and visitors take note of the changes on the regular basis. These facts are also reflected in MMC Norilsk Nickel’s 2007 Annual Report approved by the Board of Directors. For instance, in 2007 the total period, during which the atmosphere of Norilsk was being polluted, reduced by 12% generally while the period, during which the pollution rate exceeded 5 MAC, reduced by 20%.The open letter you signed includes incorrect data supporting the letter’s conclusions and I would like to provide comments on these data.1. You provided incorrect data on the number of days, on which industrial pollution of the atmosphere in Norilsk was above regular values. The true statistics are broadly available and published every month in the Environmental Bulletin, an application to Zapolyarny Vestnik newspaper published in Norilsk. The data you provided on the duration of air pollution periods are overestimated by three times over those published in the Environmental Bulletin.2. Your statement of the high rate of oncological diseases in Norilsk contradicts the data reflected in the state report On Sanitary and Epidemiological Conditions in the Russian Federation in 2006 prepared by Rospotrebnadzor. According to the report, the rate of cancer occurrences among Norilsk population in 2000-2006 did not exceed the figures for Krasnoyarsk Territory and the Russian Federation in general.3. The comparative figures of sulfur dioxide contents in the air in Norilsk against background figures for the region you provided are inappropriate because the background figures beyond the Norilsk Industrial Region are nearing zero.4. You provided references to data on the content of pollutants in the waste waters. However, the average content of pollutants in waste waters of MMC Norilsk Nickel facilities are within the standard values set forth by state regulators. I believe it is necessary to emphasize that the set of measures taken in 2003-2007 to preserve water resources resulted in reduction of the amount of pollutants in waste waters by 92,400 t (48.4%).Based on the recent statements made by UC RUSAL concerning MMC Norilsk Nickel I have to acknowledge that RUSAL deliberately disregards information about large-scale plans and projects developed and implemented by MMC Norilsk Nickel. I would like to remind you that during the visit you and O. Deripaska made to Norilsk on August 6, 2008 you had the opportunity to review not only the production development projects but the company’s environmental program as well.I deem it advisable that in the future the issues of this nature should be discussed in accordance with best international practices at internal meetings or at meetings of MMC Norilsk Nickel Board of Directors, of which you are a member.Respectfully Yours,Vladimir Strzhalkovsky, General Director – Chairman of the Management BoardOJSC MMC Norilsk NickelMoscow, August 15, 2008last_img read more