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Petronas Hires Lobbyists to Persuade Canada on Progress Takeover

Malaysia Clears Path for IPOs of Business Trusts
The Petronas Twin Towers (KLCC) stand illuminated at dusk in Kuala Lumpur. Photographer: Goh Seng Chong/Bloomberg

Petroliam Nasional Bhd. has hired lobbyists to help it secure approval from the Canadian government for the C$5.2 billion ($5.2 billion) takeover of Progress Energy Resources Corp.

StrategyCorp, an Ottawa-based government-relations firm, registered on Oct. 22 to lobby on behalf of the deal for Malaysia’s state-owned oil company, known as Petronas, government records show. Three days earlier, Industry Minister Christian Paradis rejected the acquisition under the nation’s foreign-takeover law.

In blocking the transaction, Paradis said Petronas, had 30 days to appeal or offer concessions. On Oct. 30, Petronas extended its deadline for completing its purchase of Progress until Nov. 30.

StrategyCorp. employees Lisa Samson, a former Conservative Party aide, and Martin Rust have registered to lobby on behalf of Petronas. Their company also registered on Oct. 22 to advocate for Progress in favor of the transaction. The firm had already been lobbying for government support for a liquefied natural gas terminal in British Columbia that Progress wants to build with Petronas.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government is also reviewing Cnooc Ltd.’s proposed $15.1 billion takeover of Nexen Inc., a Calgary-based oil and gas producer.

While Harper has said selling more of the nation’s natural resources to Asia is a “national priority,” and that his government welcomes foreign investment, he also said this month the Cnooc offer for Calgary-based Nexen raises a “range of difficult policy questions.”

Harper has said the government will release new guidelines for how it judges foreign takeovers when it announces the decision on Cnooc-Nexen.

Azman Ibrahim, a spokesman for Petronas, declined to comment by e-mail. Greg Kist, vice president of marketing for Progress, didn’t immediately return a call outside standard business hours.

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