US regulators approve $15.1-bn Cnooc-Nexen deal

US regulators yesterday approved the $15.1-billion takeover of Canadian oil and gas company Nexen Inc by China's state-owned Cnooc Ltd, clearing the last hurdle in the largest-ever overseas takeover by a Chinese company.

The nod from the US regulator and from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) comes after regulators in Canada and Europe had already approved the much-hyped deal.

The US regulators were expected to whet the deal thoroughly since they had earlier blocked Cnooc's attempt to buy US coal producer Unocal Corp on concerns that China's plans to buy key US assets.

Nexen, based in Calgary, said that CFIUS had approved the acquisition and now expects the deal to close by the end of this month. Apart from US regulators, CFIUS also had to approve the deal since Nexen has assets in the US.

Observers had expected Canada to veto the takeover since several lawmakers had voiced opposition to the deal, especially after its regulator had initially rejected Malaysian state-owned oil company Petronas' $5.2-billion bid for Canada's Progress Energy, but later approved the acquisition after Petronas submitted a revised bid.

Some analysts had earlier opined that it would be extremely difficult for Canada to block the deal since only about 30 per cent of Nexen's estimated daily production in 2012 came from its Canadian operations, while the rest came from outside the country, including from the British part of the North Sea.