Canada blocks Aecon takeover by Chinese state-owned firm over national security

OTTAWA — The federal government has blocked the proposed $1.5-billion takeover of Aecon Group Inc. by a Chinese state-owned company for reasons of national security.

After markets closed Wednesday, Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains confirmed the government’s decision to prevent CCCC International Holding Ltd. from acquiring the Aecon construction firm.

The Trudeau government had been warned by experts to proceed cautiously when weighing any investment bids by Chinese state firms and to be as transparent as possible in reviewing the proposed deal.

Ottawa announced a full national security review of the Aecon deal in February.

“As is always the case, we listened to the advice of our national security agencies throughout the multi-step national security review process under the Investment Canada Act,” Bains said in a statement.

“Based on their findings, in order to protect national security, we ordered CCCI not to implement the proposed investment,” he said.

“Our government is open to international investment that creates jobs and increases prosperity, but not at the expense of national security.”

Aecon has a long history of participation in Canadian construction and engineering projects such as the CN Tower, Vancouver’s SkyTrain, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Halifax shipyard.

The Toronto-based firm could not immediately be reached for comment late Wednesday.

CCCC International Holding Ltd. (CCCI) is a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC).

A representative of CCCI said Wednesday that it had no immediate comment about Ottawa’s decision to block the takeover.

The Chinese government had been highly supportive of the potential Aecon takeover.

It remains to be seen how Ottawa’s decision will be received by Beijing and how it could affect Canadian-Chinese relations.

Last month, China’s ambassador to Canada defended the proposed deal. Lu Shaye said there was no reason for concern about the acquisition of Aecon because the Chinese side was strictly focused on business and market interests.

“My first impression, to tell you the truth, (is) that I think the Canadian media or the Canadian public is too sensitive about the Aecon case because Aecon is just a construction company,” Lu said in response to a question about the takeover bid during a news conference at the Chinese embassy in Ottawa.

“From your side, you have your rules and regulations on the foreign companies overtaking Canadian companies. I think for the national security issue it is your internal affairs. The Chinese side does not want to interfere (with) it.”

Lu, who spoke through an interpreter, added that China just wants to ensure Canada has the same standards for Chinese companies as it does for foreign companies from other countries proposing to take over Canadian firms.

An internal federal document prepared last fall described CCCC as one of the world’s largest engineering and construction firms.

The Infrastructure Canada memo said CCCC generated revenue of US$62 billion in 2016 and has core business activities that include the construction of ports, roads, terminals, bridges, rail and tunnels.

Aecon, it continued, generated revenue of $3.2 billion in 2016.

The briefing document was obtained recently by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

Just Posted

Reported grizzly bear sightings near Penhold

Two people called in reported sightings Saturday

Urgent need for blood donors at Red Deer clinic

Though summer and the coming long weekend may mean a slowdown for… Continue reading

Looking at the bright side of Red Deer’s windstorm

It’s a chance for forest renewal, says naturalist

Burman University transit proposal accepted

Additional weekday bus ride to be added and bus pass introduced

VIDEO: What separation from parents does to children: ‘The effect is catastrophic’

This is what happens inside children when they are forcibly separated from… Continue reading

A beetle brings a nightmare on ash street

Introduced pests and diseases put the fear of God into plant biologists… Continue reading

Photos: Blair House is where the president’s guests get VIP treatment

WASHINGTON - Diagonally across the street from the White House is a… Continue reading

Ten Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivors meet in Las Vegas for NHL awards

HUMBOLDT, Sask. — Ten of the 13 survivors from the Humboldt Broncos… Continue reading

Triathletes young and old prepare for weekend event in Red Deer

Woody’s Triathlon goes Saturday and Sunday

Driver knocks over metal barricade, rolls several times in crash near Olds

A man is in hospital after his SUV trashed into the QEII… Continue reading

In tit-for-tat, Trump threatens more tariffs against China

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has directed the U.S. Trade Representative to… Continue reading

Commons Speaker says no to Tory calls for emergency debate on Canada-U.S. trade

OTTAWA — The official Opposition is calling for an emergency debate in… Continue reading

Accused homeowner to testify in own defence in Hamilton murder trial

HAMILTON — A Hamilton-area homeowner accused of gunning down a suspected truck… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month