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NEWS: Harper rejects BHP Billiton bid, but leaves 30-day opening

CBC.ca reports this evening that, “The federal government has rejected BHP Billiton’s $40 billion hostile takeover of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan. …Industry Minister Tony Clement said Wednesday (that) BHP’s offer for PotashCorp would not benefit the country – but he did appear to leave the door open for the Australian mining giant to make a better offer. ‘BHP Billiton has 30 days to make any additional representations and submit any undertakings,’ Clement said. ‘At the end of that period, I will make a final decision.'”

“NDP leader Jack Layton said public pressure on the government had an impact. …Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s minority government had faced pressure from four provinces – Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec – and in the House of Commons to disallow the takeover. …Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has opposed the sale, citing a study that talked about losses in provincial revenues over the next decade, and because potash is a strategic resource.”

On August 19, when the story about the BHP Billiton bid first became public, CBC reported that, “Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians, demanded Ottawa intervene.” Barlow stated, “This is the wrong way to go. When you hand over all the power over these resources to international investors, be they backed by a large country or just private investors, you lose control, you lose the ability to take care of your local economy, your local environment.” That’s at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=4394.

On October 13, we expressed our opposition to the BHP Billiton bid on the BBC World Service. We highlighted in that radio interview that, “had the PCS not been privatized in the first place, the people of Saskatchewan could own today a $39 billion asset.” That’s at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=4939.

The CBC adds that, “The federal government has reviewed 1,637 takeovers since 1985 and rejected only one, the bid in 2008 by American firm Alliant Techsystems for Vancouver-based MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates Ltd.’s information systems, satellite and space mission businesses.”