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New guidelines for foreign takeovers 'soon'

OTTAWA - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says the government will announce new guidelines for foreign takeovers "fairly soon."

The minister says the government is aware of the need to clarify the rules for approval of big acquisitions, but is taking all the time it needs because the issue is important.

Ottawa is considering two controversial acquisitions in the energy sector — the $15-billion bid for Nexen Inc. by a Chinese state-owned enterprise, and the $6-billion purchase of Progress Energy Resources by Malaysia's national oil and gas company.

While Flaherty didn't give a specific date for the new guidelines the government is staring down a Dec. 10 deadline on the Nexen deal.

The deadline, however, can be extended.

Ottawa has previously delayed its decision on both deals, in part because it wishes to have in place new guidelines for future acquisitions in Canada's rich resource sector that it believes will almost certainly come.

Last week, Industry Minister Christian Paradis suggested the new guidelines for the Investment Canada Act will come separately from the decision on the two bids, and that the Nexen and Progress Energy review is based on the existing definition of the "net benefit" to Canada test in the act.

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