Canada's Harper expects foreign investment decisions very soon

BANGALORE, India Thu Nov 8, 2012 6:25pm IST

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses for a picture in front of the historic Taj Mahal in the northern Indian city of Agra November 5, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper poses for a picture in front of the historic Taj Mahal in the northern Indian city of Agra November 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

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BANGALORE, India (Reuters) - Canada will make decisions very soon on foreign investment proposals it is considering and on the broader framework for dealing with such investment, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday.

"The government of Canada has some very important decisions before it on when it will take public positions in the very near future along with positions on some of the broader policy questions," Harper told a news conference during a visit to India.

He declined to say whether Indian state-owned enterprises would be welcome to invest in Canada.

The important decisions he was referring to were how to deal with a $15.1 billion bid by China's state-owned CNOOC Ltd (0883.HK) for Canadian oil firm Nexen Inc NXY.TO, and a C$5.17 billion one by Malaysia's state oil firm Petronas for Progress Energy Resources Corp PRQ.TO.

The government initially turned Petronas down, giving it until November 18 to put together a revised proposal, and has delayed a decision on CNOOC until December 10.

His remarks on Thursday were the clearest indication yet that the government would decide on both bids at the same time as unveiling a framework to give greater clarity to what sort of foreign investment will be acceptable.

In September, sources said a trio of state-run Indian oil companies had bid $5 billion for stakes in Canadian oil sands holdings of ConocoPhillips (COP.N).

In general, bids for stakes in holdings raise fewer concerns than taking control of entire Canadian companies.

During several months of deliberations on foreign investment, Harper has referred often to the need for other countries to treat Canadian investment with the same openness as they are seeking for their firms.

(Editing by Ron Popeski)

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