Market cap: $82-billion
Sinopec, formally known as Beijing’s China Petroleum and Chemical Corp., is the world’s fifth-largest company, according to Fortune’s Global 500 list. It has more than a million employees. In 2011, Sinopec acquired a wide swath of land in Alberta and British Columbia from Daylight Energy Ltd. that may contain large quantities of natural gas. The company also has stakes in Repsol and Galp Energia in Brazil and in Syncrude Canada. On Monday, Sinopec and Calgary’s Talisman Energy Inc. announced that the former would buy a 49-per-cent stake in Talisman’s North Sea business.
Market cap: $77-billion
Active in more than 30 countries, Statoil was formed 40 years ago and quickly took advantage of North Sea oil reserves. In North America, Statoil is working with CNOOC in Texas shale-gas ventures, and in June it announced it had found 100 million to 200 million recoverable barrels of oil off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s also working with Canada’s PetroFrontier Corp. for shale gas exploration in Australia, The Canadian Press reported in June. It’s also working in the Bakken oil field and Gulf of Mexico.
Market cap: $65-billion
Russia’s largest oil producer was formed in 1993 after the collapse of the Soviet Union and became an open joint stock company in 1995. While it’s an oil juggernaut within Russia – already the country’s biggest, it’s now eyeing BP’s 50-per-cent stake in TNK-BP – Rosneft is gradually expanding international projects as well, exploring in both Kazakhstan and Algeria. The company inked a deal in April with Exxon Mobil Corp. that gave it a stake in three projects in Alberta, West Texas and the Gulf of Mexico in April of this year, and it’s working with Exxon to explore for Arctic oil as well. The Russian state owns 75 per cent of Rosneft.
Market cap: $132-billion
Born in 1953, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, has operations in 27 countries. The Brazilian government is the controlling shareholder, but it has been open to private investors since the 1990s. While it has vast operations in coastal Brazil, Petrobras has numerous energy projects throughout South America and the rest of the world. It’s been operating in the U.S. since 1987, and is exploring or producing in Portugal, Mexico, West Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Petrobras is interested in forging closer ties with Canada, and sent a delegation here in 2010 to look at potential partnerships with Canadian companies.
SAUDI ARAMCO, SAUDI ARABIA
Saudi Aramco, producing 8 million barrels of oil a day, is the world’s biggest oil company. Originally owned by three U.S. oil companies, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia acquired 100-per-cent control in 1980. It has operations in China and South Korea and exports oil products the world over. The company has developed a dedicated investment arm to look into projects that benefit Saudi Arabia and longer-term energy challenges, and may look to Canada and the U.S., where new technologies have helped accelerate a continental oil boom.
ROADBLOCKS WITHIN CHINA
China’s ambitious M&A activity abroad contrasts with the difficulty some international companies have encountered in transacting deals and other business inside its borders.
Coca-Cola: The most prominent example remains the Chinese government’s rejection in March, 2009, of a $2.4-billion (U.S.) takeover bid by Coca-Cola for the country’s leading juice maker, Huiyuan Juice. China blocked the takeover, which would have been the largest-ever buyout of a Chinese company by a foreign rival, arguing it would be bad for competition.
Carlyle Group: In mid-2008, the U.S. private equity firm lost a three-year struggle to buy a stake in Xugong Group Construction Machinery, the largest construction machinery manufacturer and distributor in China, amid domestic concerns the country was ceding control of key industrial assets to foreigners too cheaply. Carlyle originally proposed to buy an 85-per-cent stake in the Chinese company in 2005, and even scaled that back to 45 per cent in an effort to make a deal.
Diageo: It took the London-based maker of Smirnoff vodka and Captain Morgan nearly two years – and the involvement of British and Chinese leaders – to complete a deal in 2011 to take control of Sichuan Swellfun, China’s fourth-largest premium white spirits maker by volume. The deal was considered a breakthrough after Coca-Cola’s failed deal.
Google: The Web search engine is in a very public spat with the Chinese government over censorship, making it difficult to compete with the state-controlled search service.