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StrategyCorp lobbying for Petronas, Progress on proposed acquisition

Published: Wednesday, 10/31/2012 5:37 pm EDT
Last Updated: Thursday, 11/01/2012 7:34 am EDT

StrategyCorp. consultants are lobbying the federal government on behalf of Malaysian state-owned oil company Petronas on the “Investment Canada Act as it relates to the proposed acquisition of Progress Energy,” the federal lobbyist registry shows.

The registrations for StrategyCorp. consultants Martin Rust and Lisa Samson have been active since Oct. 22 and were posted to the lobbying commissioner's online registry Wednesday.

Both consultants were already registered to lobby for Progress Energy, though not with asks related to the Investment Canada Act. Their files with Progress were also updated Oct. 22 to include lobbying on the “Investment Canada Act as it relates to the proposed acquisition of Progress Energy,” the registry says.

The files are Petronas's first in the lobbyist registry.

On Oct. 19, Industry Minister Christian Paradis rejected Petronas's $5.17 billion bid for Progress minutes before the midnight deadline on the grounds that it did not meet the Investment Canada Act's net benefit test.

Two days later, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told CTV's Question Period that the companies could take more time to address concerns with Industry Canada.

On Tuesday, a Petronas press release said it extended the deadline for its agreement with Progress to Nov. 30. It can extend the closing date for a maximum of 90 days in 30-day increments, the release said.

“PETRONAS Canada and Progress have met with officials of Industry Canada to understand the basis for the October 19, 2012 announcement by the Minister of Industry. As noted in the release by the Minister, PETRONAS Canada has up to 30 days from the date of the announcement to make any additional representations and submit any further undertakings. PETRONAS Canada intends to make further submissions to the Minister in order to obtain approval of the proposed transaction,” the release said.

Both Rust and Samson listed parliamentarians, the PMO, Finance Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Industry Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and the Privy Council Office as departments to lobby for Petronas.

In an interview last week, a consultant lobbyist with experience working on acquisitions told The Lobby Monitor that lobbyists working for foreign companies acquiring Canadian ones begin evaluating a number of factors months before a deal becomes public.

Government relations experts provide context on the government's attitude and the political context, such as electoral politics, or whether recent legislative changes prompted the deal, the consultant said. They also inform the client of the net benefit test's subjective nature and the nuances that must be taken into account—in short, “what are the essentials of a saleable net benefit package,” the consultant said.

“You often find yourself in a fair amount of political science 101, explaining how things work in Canada and how things can go off the rails if you don't do things at the right time and if you don't know what you're doing,” the consultant said.

Rust lobbied for Potash Corp. on the “Investment Canada Act, with respect to Investment Canada's review of a proposed bid to purchase and acquire control of a Canadian Corporation,” according to a registration active from Oct. 2010 to March 2011.

The Lobby Monitor was unable to reach officials from Petronas by deadline Wednesday.

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