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Canada Must Be Open For Business, Particularly In The Oil And Gas Sector, Says Bank Executive And Former Cabinet Minister

Stocks in this article: CM

Key is to ensure foreign ownership adheres to transparency and governance standards

LONDON, England, Nov. 14, 2012 /CNW/ - CIBC (CM: TSX) (CM: NYSE) — In order to allow State-Owned Enterprise to invest in Canada, public policy must ensure that foreign investments adhere to strict standards of governance and transparency says the Hon. Jim Prentice, Senior Executive Vice-President and Vice Chairman of CIBC.

In a speech to the Oil & Money 2012 conference in London, Mr. Prentice told the audience that 'turbulence' in Canada over SOEs may have surprised the international business communities, but that there was obvious and escalating public concern in Canada about SOE investments.

"This controversy has been building for years," said Mr. Prentice. "And it achieved a force in recent months that can be fairly said to be turbulence. This is because of two proposed investments in Canadian energy companies by two State Owned Enterprises - Petronas from Malaysia and CNOOC from China."

Mr. Prentice noted that "this is a pivotal time for the Canadian government". He continued, "it must consider its policy on foreign investment in light of the growing and evolving role of SOEs in Canada's oil and gas industry. However, Canada must and will remain open for business and that means open to foreign investment".

In fact, he said Canada is aggressively engaged in diversifying its energy markets with an eye to Asia - and with good reason.

"Saying "no thanks" to the largest new market opportunity, namely China, would be patently unwise. Particularly in circumstances where the transactions do not imperil Canadian values or environmental and labour laws," stated Mr. Prentice.

However, Mr. Prentice cautioned that it would be naïve to think that the acquisition of Canadian energy resources by foreign governments or their surrogates would not raise public policy questions.

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