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Nexen CEO in limbo after pending CNOOC takeover

Nexen chief executive Kevin Reinhart. Today’s topics: Nexen and China’s big bet on Canadian oil; Penn State’s punishment; targeting guns; remembering Munich ... and more

Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS

CNOOC Ltd. has promised to keep all of Nexen Inc.'s employees after it takes over the company, but one key Canadian executive is not so sure what his future holds.

Ninety-nine per cent of Nexen's common shareholders and 87 per cent of its preferred shareholders approved the deal at a special meeting in downtown Calgary Thursday, putting the company one step closer to being under Chinese control. Kevin Reinhart, Nexen's interim chief executive officer, does not know if he will soon be reporting to Beijing.

"We are still working through all the details," he told reporters after a short special meeting to vote on the takeover. "Right now my main priority is providing support to CNOOC with respect to the regulatory process. My second objective, really, is to make sure that our employees and CNOOC are set up for success, assuming the deal closes.

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"What my role and other roles in the organization will be, there's a lot to deal with that over the next little while."

Mr. Reinhart, who filled the CEO seat after Nexen and its last leader, Marvin Romanow, abruptly parted ways early this year. Mr. Reinhart would not comment on whether he wants to stay with CNOOC, which has promises to keep the Calgary-based company's name.

"They are buying the Nexen brand," he told shareholders at the special meeting.

Nexen has lost employees since CNOOC made its $15.1-billion bid for the company, but Mr. Reinhart said exit interviews show those departures have come because of Calgary's competitive labour market, not because employees are nervous about their potential new bosses.

"We haven't seen anything out of the ordinary," Mr. Reinhart said, noting he was off to an employee townhall to update Nexen's workers. "Employees are generally pretty positive about this."

CNOOC has pledged to keep the company's staff and designate Calgary as its North American headquarters. This will help the Chinese state-owned company woo the Harper government in its quest to show the deal is a "net benefit" to Canada. The takeover needs regulatory approval in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and China.

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