Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says Ottawa won’t speculate as to whether it would prevent a foreign takeover of Research in Motion.
Speaking with reporters via a conference call from Galway, Ireland, the minister said any takeover bid would be subject to the existing rules under the Investment Canada Act.
The government has been under pressure to provide more clarity about its use of that legislation, which allows Ottawa to veto takeovers for failing to meet a “net benefit” test. But the minister would not say whether the government considers RIM to be a strategic business that Ottawa would protect.
“I don’t really have a response to that because it would be speculative,” said Mr. Flaherty. “If there were a proposal for RIM or part of RIM coming from outside Canada, then that’s a matter that of course the minister of Industry would review should it fall under the terms of the Investment Canada Act, but I’m not going to speculate because there’s - as far as I know - nothing being proposed right now.”
Mr. Flaherty said that at this point, the next move belongs to RIM, not Ottawa.
“RIM is an important company, not only in Canada, but globally. I use BlackBerrys,” he said. “I’m not going to speculate about what steps could be taken because the steps to be taken are really steps for the company to take, to decide on its path forward in order to stabilize the company. So I will leave that to them. That does not mean we do not speak, but they need to look at their own options and to choose their path.”
Mr. Flaherty is in Ireland to accept an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland.
Responding to other economic developments, Canada’s finance minister praised the latest plan from the euro zone for deeper integration as “good news.” The European Union agreed to recapitalize banks directly instead of funneling rescue funds through national governments. But noted that many aspects of the plan have been put off for another day.
He said it’s too early to interpret the initial positive market reaction to the deal.
“I always worry about agreements reached in the middle of the night and the reaction of markets, which tend to be immediate,” he said. “We’ve seen markets react positively before and then back off. I want to see clearly what is being proposed with respect to the direct recapitalization of banks. If this is going to be a comprehensive program for the recapitalization of banks in the euro zone that’s very important and that is something that we have been advocating for almost three years now with the Europeans.”
With Eric Reguly in Rome