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MONTREAL — Goldcorp Inc. had no way of crystal-balling Quebec politics when it launched its unsolicited offer for Osisko Mining Corp. in January. But what is now clear is that its hostile bid will land smack in the middle of the next election campaign.
The Parti Québécois’s minority government will unveil Thursday what is expected to be an electoral budget. Whatever doubts remained about an election call in March were dispelled with the latest Crop/La Presse survey that indicates a majority is within reach for Premier Pauline Marois. You can already hear the campaign buses revving up.
The coincidence is reminiscent of the 2012 elections, when American retailer Lowe’s Cos. Inc. tried to acquire Quebec hardware chain Rona Inc. before withdrawing its proposal in the face of heated opposition that crossed party lines.
Will Osisko become another Rona? And how will the elections affect the battle for the Malartic gold mine, Osisko’s only operation?
Quebeckers are quite attached to the Rona hardware stores that are found in just about every corner of the province. The same cannot be said of Osikso. While it is the province’s best-known mining company following the controversial expropriation of a Malartic neighbourhood where its open-pit mine was dug, Osisko’s economic importance is largely unknown.
As the battle heats up, that may change. Osisko is one of the only three Quebec-owned mining companies that go beyond exploration, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal pointed out in a press release.
Osisko’s market capitalization of $3.1-billion is double that of Rona’s. “We are bigger than Quebecor,” president Sean Roosen said to a Montreal newspaper. One and a half times bigger, in fact.
While Osisko is spinning its importance to Quebec, Goldcorp is not staying put. The Vancouver-based company just took out a full-page ad in La Presse to showcase its ties to the province with its Éléonore mine and its ties to Laval University.
Goldcorp’s pitch, in essence: We are not the mean foreigners.
This public relations battle might have been eclipsed by other election issues. But Quebec is about to publish a long-awaited report from an advisory committee that looked into how to protect companies from hostile takeovers. The non-partisan committee led by CGI executive Claude Séguin held as a premise that hostile takeovers can gut an economy.
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