Foreign ownership of companies of Canada
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Foreign ownership of companies of Canada has long been a controversial political issue in Canada. Concerns regarding foreign ownership generally pertain to ownership of previously 'Canadian' assets by individuals or companies based in countries outside of Canada.
The exact definition of "foreign-owned" is the subject of debate. This article uses the working definition for foreign ownership.
Historically, foreign ownership was a political issue in Canada in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when it was believed by some that U.S. investment had reached new heights (though its levels had actually remained stable for decades), and then in the 1980s, during debates over the Free Trade Agreement.
But the situation has changed, since in the interim period Canada itself became a major investor and owner of foreign corporations. Since the 1980s, Canada's levels of investment and ownership in foreign companies have been larger than foreign investment and ownership in Canada. In some smaller countries, such as Montenegro, Canadian investment is sizable enough to make up a major portion of the economy. In Northern Ireland, for example, Canada is the largest foreign investor. By becoming foreign owners themselves, Canadians have become far less politically concerned about investment within Canada.
Of note is that Canada's largest companies by value, and largest employers, tend to be foreign-owned in a way that is more typical of a developing nation than a G8 member. The best example is the automotive sector, one of Canada's most important industries. It is dominated by American, German, and Japanese giants. Although this situation is not unique to Canada in the global context, it is unique among G-8 nations, and many other relatively small nations also have national automotive companies.
Partial list of foreign-owned companies of Canada
Foreign owned companies among Canada's current largest companies
- Asia Pacific Marine Container Lines (Asia Pacific Group Canada), one of Canada's largest cargo transport companies owned by Leung Maritime Group, Hong Kong
- Kia Canada Inc., owned by South Korea's Kia Motors
- General Electric Canada Co. (Formerly Canadian General Electric), a wholly owned unit of General Electric Inc.
- General Motors Canada, Canada's largest automotive manufacturer, Canadian owned according to Ontario Superior Court Documents and the indirect Parent is the Detroit-based General Motors
- Wal-Mart Canada, wholly owned by Wal-Mart of the US
- Toyota Canada Inc. owned by Japan's Toyota
- Ford Motor Company of Canada, owned by the American Ford company
- Imperial Oil, owned by American company ExxonMobil
- Mercedes-Benz Canada Inc., owned by German giant Mercedes-Benz
- Shell Canada, owned by Royal Dutch Shell.
- British Petroleum Canada, owned by British Petroleum
- Mitsui and Company, part of the Japanese Mitsui empire
- Honda Canada Inc., owned by Honda of Japan
- Ultramar fuels, owned by US company Valero
- Costco, whose Canadian operations are the 7th largest private company in Canada as of 2006, is based in Seattle
- Labatt Brewing Company, purchased by Belgian brewer Interbrew in 1995, eventually absorbed into Anheuser-Busch InBev
- Tangerine Bank (previously known as ING Bank of Canada), the largest foreign bank in Canada, formed by the purchase of several small Canadian companies, formerly controlled by the Dutch ING Group, owned since 2012 by Scotiabank (formally the Bank of Nova Scotia)]]
- Sears Canada, one of the largest retailers (created by buying old Simpson's stores), controlled by the US Sears Holdings Corporation
- IBM Canada, owned by IBM
- Cargill Ltd. owned by Cargill of Minnesota
- McDonald's Canada, owned by McDonald's
- Pratt & Whitney Canada, owned by US United Technologies Corporation
- Nissan Canada, owned by Nissan Motors of Japan
- Parmalat Canada owned by Parmalat of Italy (owns the Black Diamond Cheese brand)
- Waste Connections Canada, majority shares owned by American owned Waste Connections.
Former major Canadian Companies acquired by foreign owners
- MacMillan Bloedel, B.C. forestry giant acquired by Weyerhaeuser for US$2.45 billion in 1999
- JDS Fitel announces $8.9-billion merger with U-S.-based Uniphase to form JDS Uniphase, in 1999. Company headquarters move from Ottawa to San Jose.
- Eaton's, at one time Canada's largest retailer, with a history going back to 1869, purchased by Sears in 1999, and closed in 2000
- Seagram distillery and entertainment conglomerate, sold to Vivendi Universal and Pernod Ricard in 2000
- Corel, a software and programming company, taken over by Vector Capital in August 2003.
- PetroKazakhstan a Calgary-based company exploring in Central Asia, was purchased by the Chinese state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation in 2005
- CP Ships Ltd., acquired by the parent company of Hapag-Lloyd Container Line, TUI AG, in an all-cash transaction worth $2.3 billion US in 2005
- Terasen Inc., previously BC Gas (a public utility company), sold to American-owned energy giant Kinder Morgan for $6.9 billion. The deal was approved by the B.C. Utilities Commission despite 8,000 letters of protest, 2005. Terasen was subsequently sold to Newfoundland-based Fortis Inc. in 2007.
- Canadian Pacific hotels the owner of many of Canada's most historic hotel properties (operating under the name Fairmont Hotels and Resorts since 1999) is sold to Colony Capital, LLC of California and Kingdom Holding Company of Saudi Arabia for $3.9 billion, in January 2006.
- Dofasco, Canada's largest steel maker acquired by Luxembourg-based Arcelor, January 2006.
- Noranda (mining company) & Falconbridge Ltd., purchased by Swiss mining company Xstrata in 2006. Noranda had earlier been a target of state-owned China Metals Corp., but had backed out in 2005 amid public concern in Canada of Chinese state control of such a major company.
- ATI Technologies, Canada's graphics chip maker, acquired by Advanced Micro Devices, July 2006.
- Stelco, Canada's last major independent steel producer, taken over by United States Steel in August 2007.
- Alcan purchased by Rio Tinto in 2007.
- Addax Petroleum, one of Canada's 9 Fortune 2000 in 2009 oil and gas companies was acquired by sinopec of China for C$8.27 billion in June 2009 and approved by the Chinese government on August 12, 2009.
- In 2012, the Harper government controversially approved the sale of two Canadian oil and gas companies to foreign state owned enterprises, Nexen Inc. to CNOOC Limited of China and Progress Energy Resources to Petronas of Malaysia, though it stated that future takeovers by SOEs would face new rules, especially in the energy sector.
- Nexen, an oil and gas company based in Calgary, became a wholly owned subsidiary of Beijing-based CNOOC Limited on February 25, 2013.
- Lorex, a distributor of security systems, was acquired by the Chinese company Dahua Technology in 2018.
- Other examples include Fairmont Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Cirque du Soleil.
- Creo, a world leader in digital printing software acquired by Eastman Kodak
- Zenon Environmental Inc., a successful and innovative technology company spawned in Hamilton—sold to General Electric Co.
- Tim Hortons, sold to US Wendy's International in 1995, later to be sold to the public as an IPO in 2005.
- CN Rail, the historic Canadian railway, now estimated to be 2/3 US owned. Many US shareholders gained shares in CN when they received CN shares in exchange for their original shares in US railways like Illinois Central. Another interesting fact is that when CN planned to merge with US railway BNSF in 1999, it was the American government that stopped the project.
- Gulf Canada Resources, which had formerly been part of US-based Gulf Oil, but had since become independent, was purchased by US-based Conoco in a deal worth $6.7 billion in 2002.
- Moore Wallace sold to U.S. company R.R. Donnelley and Sons for $4.9 billion.
- Masonite, bought out by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
- ID Biomedical, Canadian vaccine maker acquired by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline for $1.8 billion.
- Vincor International Ltd, Canada's top wine maker and distributor, purchased for $1.4 billion by Constellation Brands Inc. of Fairport, NY, USA
- Bauer, Cooper, and Hespeler, historic hockey-equipment manufacturers, collectively bought by Nike in 1994
- CCM (The Hockey Company), acquired by Reebok in 2004.
Ways & means
The foreign company often needs to incorporate a special-purpose subsidiary in Canada, in order to control its investment. The New Brunswick Business Corporations Act, the Nova Scotia Companies Act, the Quebec Business Corporations Act and the British Columbia Business Corporations Act make no stipulations that resident Canadians be directors. New Brunswick provides that Extra Provincial Corporations need only have an "attorney for service" resident in that province. Unlimited liability corporations can exist in Alberta, British Columbia or Nova Scotia. This form is particularly convenient where the parties are well-established and in no danger of insolvency. Alberta requires the derisory fee of CAD$100 to establish this form. In most other provinces, the legislation is significantly more restrictive.
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(Source - Statistics Canada)
2003 - Percentage of operating revenues of Canadian industries that were from foreign-controlled companies:
- Manufacturing - 51.8%, - Oil and gas - 49.9%, - Finance and insurance - 23.7%,
2004 - Foreign-controlled profits soared to a record $68 billion in 2004, up 21.7% from the previous year.
2004 - Foreign-controlled corporations accounted for 21.9% of assets held in Canada, and 30.0% of operating revenues yet comprised less than 1% (approx. 8,000) of the total 1.3 million corporations in Canada. Assets of foreign-controlled corporations rose 8.3% to $1.1 trillion in 2004, while those of Canadian-controlled corporations rose 8.9% to $3.9 trillion.
2004 - Foreign-controlled corporations operating revenues in Canada averaged $96 million, compared with less than $2 million for their Canadian-controlled counterparts.
Foreign Controlled Corporations:
Assets in Year 2000 - 833,970 Million
Assets in Year 2004 - 1,090,526 Million
August 2006 (Source - ROBTV)
Foreign purchases in 2006: 34 Canadian companies purchased by foreign interests worth 62 Billion dollars, nearly 4% of Canada's Market value
number of Canada-based fortune 500 companies
2005 - 66
2009 - 52 (one of them from the merger of Suncor and Petro Canada) most of the other 13 are from foreign takeovers.