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Suncor extends $4.3-billion takeover bid for Canadian Oil Sands

The $4.3-billion battle between Suncor Energy and Canadian Oil Sands was initially supposed to have been sewn up by early December

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Suncor Energy Inc. has extended its $4.3-billion takeover offer for Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. until Jan. 27 after it failed to initially garner enough support from the target's shareholders.

Suncor's hostile bid, which expired Friday, was supported by less than half of the target's shareholders, a person familiar with the tendering process said, citing early results. The offer needed support from two-thirds of Canadian Oil Sands shareholders for the deal to go ahead. "It's clear shareholders have rejected the offer," the person said.

A Suncor spokesperson declined comment. Canadian Oil Sands could not immediately be reached for comment late Friday.

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Suncor had offered 0.25 of a Suncor share for each Canadian Oil Sands share. On Friday, Canadian Oil Sands shares closed at $7.47 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, or roughly 11 per cent below the implied value of $8.31 of Suncor's offer, reflecting lingering uncertainty about the deal's prospects.

The market was "betting that there is a good chance that it doesn't go through," Bank of Montreal oil analyst Randy Ollenberger said in an e-mail.

Suncor chief executive officer Steve Williams had said the offer would lapse without a "significant" show of support, suggesting Friday's results did not amount to a resounding defeat. However, the company now faces pressure to sweeten its bid – a move Mr. Williams has resisted since launching the hostile play in October.

Suncor is seeking to increase its stake in the Syncrude Canada Ltd. oil sands project to 49 per cent from 12 per cent currently. Canadian Oil Sands owns 37 per cent of Syncrude.

Mr. Williams has said weak crude prices will make it harder for Canadian Oil Sands to reverse recent cuts to its dividend, and warned of a possible collapse in the shares should the offer be rejected.

Canadian Oil Sands chief executive officer Ryan Kubik accused Suncor of "scare" tactics and repeatedly urged shareholders to spurn the offer. This week, the company said there was more value in staying independent after a strategic review failed to drum up a counteroffer.

U.S. crude prices have skidded sharply in recent weeks as a global supply glut shows few signs of abating, and concerns mount over the health of China's economy.

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On Friday, U.S. benchmark West Texas intermediate oil slipped 11 cents (U.S.) to $33.16 a barrel, down roughly 27 per cent from the time Suncor announced its bid.

In a statement late Friday, Canadian Oil Sands ‎urged shareholders to once again reject Suncor's offer. It is the second time Suncor has extended the bid.

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About the Author

Jeff Lewis is a reporter specializing in energy coverage for The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, based in Calgary. Previously, he was a reporter with the Financial Post, writing news and features about Canada’s oil industry. His work has taken him to Norway and the Canadian Arctic. More

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