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After BHP-Potash, Australia approves Anatolia-Avoca merger Add to ...

Immediately after Industry Minister Tony Clement rejected BHP Billiton Ltd.'s hostile bid for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan, people started speculating on what it means for the federal government's free-market mandate and how other countries will respond.

A few hours later, a early sign came when Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board approved TSX-listed Anatolia Minerals Development Ltd.'s roughly $2-billion merger with Avoca Resources Ltd. that was first announced in early September.

In the big scheme of things, there isn't much to look into with this approval because there's a big difference between a $2-billion merger and a $38.6-billion (U.S.) one, but it does show that cross-border deals can still get done.

That's something Saskatchewan Premier stressed in his remarks Wednesday afternoon. "Can we be a free-trading, open-market country and still say no to certain takeover proposals?" he asked. "I believe that we can."

Although the Anatolia deal is more a merger of equals, which makes it much less politically hostile, it looks like Australia feels the same way. That should be factored in when people wonder how Canada will be perceived around the world.

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