After Rona, province may halt future takeovers of Quebec companies – by Nicolas Van Praet (Globe and Mail – February 3, 2016)

Quebec’s Economy Minister warned that her government would intervene in future takeovers of Quebec-based companies if the offers are non-solicited.

“If it’s hostile, definitely the government needs to be involved and engaged with the partners and see what can be done in order to save the situation and find the right solution,” Dominique Anglade said in an interview Wednesday after home improvement chain Lowe’s Cos. Inc. announced that it struck a friendly $3.2-billion deal for Quebec-based rival Rona Inc.

Rona’s board met on Tuesday to approve the transaction and the company phoned the office of Premier Philippe Couillard to advise lawmakers of the deal shortly afterward. The government is backing the deal on the grounds that it is a friendly agreement that maintains Rona’s headquarters in Boucherville, Que., and most jobs while providing significant prospects for growth.

Quebec hasn’t been tested much in recent months with respect to its takeover policy. Last year, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté sold majority control of the circus business to Texas-based private equity fund TPG Capital and China’s Fosun Group in a friendly deal in which he also sought head office guarantees.

In 2014, after gold miner Osisko was sold to Yamana Gold Inc. and Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., Osisko’s chief executive officer lashed out at what he saw as Canada’s bidder-friendly takeover regulations.

Nevertheless, the purchase by non-Quebec entities of Quebec companies has become a major issue in the province. A general consensus has emerged among political and business leaders that local head offices need to be protected as much as possible – partly because of all the legal, regulatory and banking jobs tied to decision-making centres.

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