A Chinese state-owned company’s planned acquisition of Canada’s largest infrastructure construction company is now facing prolonged scrutiny by the Canadian government.
The deadline for completing the plan of arrangement for China Communications Construction Co.’s (CCCC) CA$1.45 billion ($1.13 billion) takeover of Toronto-based Aecon Group Inc. has been pushed back by 35 days after Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development extended the ongoing national security review of the deal, Aecon announced Monday.
The acquisition was announced in October, although it’s unclear when the Canadian government began its review. As part of the agreement between CCCC and Aecon, Aecon will be delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange and become a wholly-owned subsidiary of CCCC’s Hong Kong-listed international investment unit.
“Both companies remain committed to working with the Investment Review Division to obtain approval of the transaction,” Aecon said in its statement. Prior to Monday’s announcement, Aecon rebutted critics of the deal, saying in an earlier statement that it “does not own any intellectual property related to nuclear energy, nor does it possess other sensitive proprietary technology,” meaning the acquisition did not pose a security risk. CCCC could not be reached for comment.
If successfully completed, the acquisition is set to become the largest-ever investment by a Chinese company in Canada’s transport and construction sector, according to the China-Canada Investment Tracker, a University of Alberta research project.
While governments around the world, including in Europe, Australia and the U.S., have moved to block or restrict the growing tide of Chinese overseas investment, Canada has recently been more welcoming of Chinese acquisitions, making the extension of CCCC’s review an uncharacteristic move.
In June, the Canadian government allowed Shenzhen-based Hytera Communications to buy Vancouver-based Norsat International Inc., a satellite communications technology firm with military clients, without the usual in-depth national security review.