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Natural Resources Minister Christian Paradis speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Oct. 7, 2010.CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

It's odd enough that First Quantum Minerals Ltd. has to get approval from Investment Canada for its $5.1-billion hostile takeover of Inmet Mining Corp., but it's even odder that a decision is taking this long.

First Quantum on Wednesday extended its bid for Inmet until March 11 because Investment Canada approval didn't come in the first 45 day period. Now, the review is into a 30 day extension.

It seems strange that a Vancouver headquartered, TSX-traded company like First Quantum should even be considered a foreign buyer under Investment Canada.

But when it comes to whether a company is truly Canadian, like a Bryan Adams power ballad, it's not always apparent on the surface what is Canadian and what is not.

First Quantum doesn't make the cut, because not enough of its directors come from Canada.

So First Quantum does not qualify as a Canadian buyer for Inmet, and so has had to seek Investment Canada approval to buy Inmet. Strange but true, and fully disclosed in all the prospectuses.

What's bugging some traders is that it's taking longer than the first 45 day period. The expectation was that First Quantum, a company with few ties to Canada, buying Inmet, which has basically no assets in Canada except its head office, would be more or less rubber stamped. Especially since there aren't really any high profile files on the desk at Investment Canada right now.

There are all sorts of theories on what is taking so long, everything from discord between the Industry Minister and his staffers to maternity leaves leaving the department short-staffed to the government simply wanting to take its time on all reviews and avoid setting expectations that some will be done quickly.

(Boyd Erman is a Globe and Mail Capital Markets Reporter & Streetwise Columnist.)

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