from the Wall Street Journal
If you want a good example of an "annus horribilius," just talk to any Research in Motion investor. The Canadian company's stock has been dropping like the proverbial lead balloon. And that's prompted a lot of recent talk of a possible takeover by the likes of (choose one) Google, Microsoft, Facebook, or Amazon.
But hold the smartphone. If such a bit bid ever comes — and RIM's execs are insisting they're not at all interested — what would Canada's federal government do? Would it play goalie and block a hostile foreign takeover of the Ontario-based company, just like it did in 2010 when Saskatchewan's huge Potash Corp. was about to be swallowed by Aussie mining giant BHP Billiton?
It's a tricky question for Stephen Harper's Conservative, business-friendly government, this matter of the Investment Canada Act, which has been around for years but has been used only twice — once to block the Potash sale, and previously, to stop Alliant Techsystems' bid for MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates in 2008.
Mann doesn't mention reports over the past couple of days which suggest Samsung
, too, is now in the pool of RIM suitors (which were quickly denied by Samsung). The focus his piece is more concerned with the "what if scenario":
... when asked about RIM and a possible takeover, Harper said recently, "We all know this is an important Canadian company." Canada has shown reluctance to let foreign companies buy major domestic corporations
This complicated situation indeed begs for clarity on the part of the Canadian government — before any hostile American takeover is announced.
Ottawa saying "Don't even THINK about taking over RIM," while bad news for potential suitors, would arguably be preferable to the current nebulous situation.
The Potash decision makes it look like these calls are made at the whim of politics. (Does the name "Keystone-XL" sound familiar?).
Canada needs to let the world know one way or the other whether it's in favor of foreign investment.
Would Ottawa block a RIM takeover?
Commentary: Clarity needed from Canadian government on tech bellwether
Bill Mann | 17 January 2012
Research In Motion pushing for sale to Samsung [updated]
Jonathan S. Geller | Jan 17th, 2012
Samsung says not interested in buying RIM
17 January 2012