In somewhat of a surprise move, the Canadian government allowed the $15.1-billion takeover of Canada-based Nexen Inc. (NYSE/NXY) by CNOOC Limited (NYSE/CEO) to go through. Initially, it was thought that Canadian regulators and the government would axe the deal, citing the security concerns of a takeover of oil reserves by the Chinese government-controlled CNOOC. Canada has rejected takeover bids from Chinese companies in the past, citing the need to safeguard its mineral and energy resources.
While the Nexen deal doesn’t mean there will be more deals from China to come, it does show the country is hungry to gain access to raw material reserves around the world, as the country is looking to double its gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020. (Read “China’s Golden Years Still to Come.”) China will continue to target global reserves, which in turn, translates into internal exploration and the buying of foreign resource companies.
In 2009 and 2010, Chinese energy firms made about $48.0 billion in acquisitions in North America, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The country has investments in the oil-rich Canadian tar sands in Alberta, and I expect to see more Chinese capital flowing in.
According to the IEA, the country has targeted Iraq as its top oil source by 2030. (Source: Xiang, L. and Juan, D., “China to be main buyer of Iraqi oil by 2030, says IEA,” China Daily, November 13, 2012, last accessed January 17, 2013.)
Whether it’s in the Middle East, Africa, or Canada, China wants to and needs to pump up its access to oil reserves, regardless of the location.
Take Canada, for instance. In spite of political roadblocks from the Canadian government, China has been targeting Canadian energy plays; albeit, not all have played out.
China’s energy radar is global. The country has been making significant investments in Africa. China is steadily increasing its access to African resources with open arms. What allows China to buy is its massive war chest of over $3.0 trillion in cash reserves.
You can understand why China has clout and the ability to get deals done.
The search is not only limited to oil; it’s also for other essential raw materials, such as metals and forestry. The country is the world’s largest consumer and producer of gold. In 2011, the country produced over 300 tonnes of gold—tops worldwide, according to research by precious metals consultant GFMS. Australia produced 270 tonnes in 2011, the second-biggest producer and a big reason why China has been eyeing Australia for acquisitions.
At the same time, China is trying to reduce its need for foreign sources of metals; the country continues to scour the world, looking at acquisitions. We are seeing a rise in the amount of domestic exploration for energy and metals via Chinese companies.
China has made numerous acquisitions, and I expect this to continue, especially as the country continues to grow and its appetite for raw materials rises.