Regulator to weigh on Suncor attempts to take over Canadian Oil Sands

Regulator to weigh on Suncor attempts to take over Canadian Oil Sands

Suncor Energy’s headquarters in Calgary, Canada. (Image: Screenshot from video by Francois Arseneault |Shutterstock.com)

Suncor Energy’s (TSX, NYSE:SU) attempts to acquire Canadian Oil Sands (TSX:COS) have reached a whole new level, as the company has asked Alberta’s regulator to dismantle one of the anti-takeover measures adopted by COS directors.

Suncor, which is Canada's largest oil producer, launched in early October a $3.3 billion (Cdn $4.3bn) hostile takeover for the Calgary-based oil sands producer, which was qualified by the target company as “undervalued, opportunistic and exploitive.”

The Alberta Securities Commission will hold a hearing on Nov. 26 to consider the so-called poison pill adopted by the COS last month, Suncor said in a statement. The hearing follows its application for an order to cease the new rights plan.

By asking the Alberta Securities Commission to intercede, Suncor hopes COS shareholders will be allowed to decide for themselves whether to accept the deal.

But Canadian Oil Sands says its board is actually trying to protect its shareholders from a bidder with an unfair advantage because it has access to private information about the Syncrude oil sands operations, Canada’s largest synthetic crude project, north of Fort McMurray, Alta.

COS currently holds a 37% stake in Syncrude, while Suncor has a 12% interest.

Suncor stock has climbed 11% to $39.33 as of Thursday from $35.37 on Oct. 2, before the bid. Canadian Oil Sands shares have risen 62% over the same period, to $10 from $6.19.

Suncor has been looking to expand in the Canada’s oil sands amid a prolonged slump in oil prices. In September, it bought an additional 10% interest in the Fort Hills oil sands project in northern Alberta from French oil company Total.