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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 October 2007, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Canada rethinks foreign takeovers
Aluminium refinery owned by Alcan
Some are worried about precious mineral reserves in foreign hands
Canada could subject foreign takeovers of domestic companies to a "national security test" as part of a rethink of overseas ownership of key assets.

Ministers said they would promptly look at new guidelines for foreign takeovers which would include "safeguards" to protect national interests.

A rash of recent takeovers has fuelled calls for current rules to be reviewed.

Germany, Japan and China are among leading economies that have constraints in place on the scope of foreign deals.

'Not for sale'

Ministers are already committed to reviewing current legislation on foreign takeovers - which requires deals to provide a "net benefit" to Canadians - by next summer.

However, industry minister Jim Prentice said the issues of national security and acquisitions by state-owned foreign enterprises, which many believe distort proper competition, needed to be addressed immediately.

Like other countries around the world, it is important that we have safeguards in place to protect our interests
Jim Prentice, Industry minister

While stressing that foreign investment was welcome in Canada, Mr Prentice said it was vital that relevant legislation was up to date and served the country's needs.

"Canada is open for business but it is not for sale," he said in a speech in Vancouver.

"Like other countries around the world, it is important that we have safeguards in place to protect our interests."

Mr Prentice said any legislative changes would not apply to takeovers currently in progress but did not elaborate on the likely substance of any "national security test" or when it may be introduced.

The Conservative government has been under pressure to toughen up foreign investment rules for some time after a spurt of takeovers in the important mining and energy sectors.

Falconbridge and Alcan have been snapped up in the past couple of years while PrimeWest Energy Trust is in the process of being bought by TAQA, owned by the Abu Dhabi government.

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