Pierre Poilievre urges Ottawa to block Glencore’s bid to buy Teck

Pierre Poilievre urges Ottawa to block Glencore’s bid to buy Teck

Conservative leader says ‘hostile foreign takeover’ would threaten jobs and critical resources

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Pierre Poilievre, leader of the Conservative party, is calling for the federal government to block Glencore Plc’s bid to buy Canada’s largest diversified miner, Teck Resources Ltd., adding yet another political voice against the potential takeover.

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The leader of the opposition in a statement on April 27 said that the Glencore takeover would put thousands of jobs at risk and threaten the local critical mineral supply chain.

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Poilievre highlighted the past fines and charges that Glencore has faced and said that his government would have used the Investment Canada Act to stop the “hostile foreign takeover and take into account Glencore’s previous unethical behavior.”

The statement from the Conservative party comes a week after British Columbia Premier David Eby told the Financial Post that he had concerns about Glencore’s ability to meet the province’s high ESG standards.

In addition, the mayors of the towns of Sparwood and Elkford in the Elk Valley, which hosts Teck’s steelmaking coal mines, said that a deal with Glencore would hurt the region’s image since it would connect Teck to Glencore’s thermal coal operations which is a major contributor of carbon emissions.

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Glencore has repeatedly rebuffed the criticism, saying it would continue to have offices in Canada after the merger and that its No. 1 priority would be to ensure the health and safety of local communities.

Three top federal cabinet ministers — Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson — said they were watching Glencore’s takeover attempt “closely” and, in a letter to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, stressed the importance of Teck to Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has taken a number of steps in the past year to ensure Canadian mining projects involving critical minerals such as copper and lithium remain under Canadian control — or at least the control of allies. Ottawa and some provinces, including Ontario, are keen to capitalize on the green transition by developing new mining projects that would secure Canada’s place in the supply chain for electric vehicles and other clean technology.

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Teck is a big copper producer and is working on nearly doubling its production of the red metal, a key component of electrification.

In October, the federal government said that in the future any attempt by a state-owned enterprise to purchase critical mineral assets in Canada could be subject to extended reviews. Weeks later, the government ordered three Chinese companies to exit the three Canadian lithium miners in which they had invested.

Glencore doesn’t fall into that category. It already runs nickel, copper, coal and zinc mining operations in Canada, and employs about 9,000 people.

Still, all foreign investments, regardless of size or level of control, are subject to a national security review. In 2010, former prime minister Stephen Harper blocked BHP Group Ltd.’s attempt to purchase Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (now Nutrien Ltd.) on the grounds that it was in Canada’s interest to retain domestic ownership of a vital food nutrient.

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Teck has been defending a takeover attempt from Switzerland’s Glencore for the past three weeks. The Canadian miner rejected two offers this month, but Glencore, one of the most powerful players in global mining and commodities trading, hasn’t backed down. The Swiss mining giant also said that it could bypass Teck’s board and put in an offer directly to shareholders.

Poilievre’s statement came a day after Teck’s management withdrew its plan to divide the company into separate coal and copper operations amid increasing pressure from some shareholders to accept Glencore’s US$ 23.2-billion takeover offer.

Had Teck’s shareholders approved the management’s plan to divide the company, Glencore would have stopped its pursuit of the Canadian Miner. As such, Teck’s decision to withdraw the vote – because he didn’t expect to win enough votes for approval – is being seen by many in the industry as a win for Glencore.

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However, analysts say that a takeover of Teck, before separation, is unlikely as things stand.

Teck has a dual share class structure, which means shareholders of both classes A and B would need to approve any potential deal. A major hurdle for Glencore lies in Teck’s chairman emeritus, Norman Keevil who has said he does not support the bid. The industry veteran, who is very popular in the mining community, controls a majority of Teck A shares, making his vote key to the company’s future.

After canceling the shareholder vote on the separation on April 26, Teck is now in the process of figuring out a new proposal to separate its coal and metals operations that shareholders might accept.

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Pierre Poilievre urges Ottawa to block Glencore’s bid to buy Teck
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