Canada: Introduction To Opportunities And Challenges In Investment In Canadian Resources Sectors

Last Updated: August 15 2013
Article by Ningyan (Sandy) Wang

The "going out" policy initiated by the China central government has implemented for 14 years and more and more Chinese enterprises have chosen Canada for their investment in natural resources sectors. One of the most high-profile cases was China Investment Corporation invested C$1.74 billion in Teck Resources Limited in 2009, which was regarded as a "win-win" transaction by the Teck's CEO. Another remarkable deal was CNOOC took over Nexen Inc. for a consideration of C$15.1 billion, which represents the single largest overseas investment by Chinese firms up to date.

However, opportunities and challenges always coexist. When conducting business in an alien jurisdiction, it is not surprising that Chinese investors will encounter complicated legal and cultural issues and experience unexpected challenges and difficulties. Most of those challenges, however, arise from Chinese investors' undue application of "China experience" to the Canadian context without fully appreciating local custom and practice.

Having been involving in numerous M&A transactions concerning Chinese investment, the author intends, in a series of bulletins, to share her rich knowledge and experience with respect to Canadian business environment, statutory regime, regulatory compliance and best practice for the purpose of helping Chinese investors understand the particular issues in doing business in Canada and shed light on practical solutions.

For the ease of Chinese readers, the bulletins will be drawn in Chinese language. Should anyone be interested in receiving an English version, feel free to contact the author directly.

投资加拿大资源的机遇和挑战之概论

王宁燕

随着中国"走出去"战略的深化和全面推进,加拿大资源大国的地位越来越为国人所认知和青睐。加国地大物博,3000余万的总人口拥有着世界第二大国土面积的国家。加拿大的矿产种类繁多、品质优良、储量可观,其中多种矿产品的产量位居世界前列 1。石油天然气的资源量同样可圈可点,加国包括油砂在内的石油储量位居全球第三。

同时,百余年的矿业和石油天然气的开发历史造就了加拿大领先于世界水平的卓越科学技术和覆盖各个领域(包括地质勘探、开发建设、采选生产等方面)的专家团队。尤为重要同时也是中国同行业相对薄弱的的优势是加国成熟健全的资源领域的资本融资平台—— 多伦多证券交易所是全球矿业和石油天然气领域的主要融资市场之一,世界上约为60%的上市矿业公司、55%的油气公司在多交所挂牌或两地挂牌。

丰富优质的自然资源、稳定的地缘政治、健全的法律制度、宽松的审批监管、多样的投资渠道以及高素质的人力资源吸引了众多的中资企业前来加拿大投资。过去近十年间,中资企业对于加拿大的资源领域的投资十分活跃。据中国驻加拿大使领馆不完全统计,截至2012年底,中国在加国投资企业共计183家,实际投资额约为438亿美元,其中以能源和矿产资源为主,约占投资总额的83%。在众多投资项目中,最为耳熟能详的是2009年7月金融危机期间中国投资有限公司(China Investment Corporation)进入加拿大最大的多元化综合性矿业公司泰克资源(Teck Resources Limited),战略投资17.4亿加元成为泰克重要的股东。该投资曾被视为中投对外最为成功的投资项目,也为泰克评价为"双赢"的交易。另外一笔备受瞩目的并购案是2012年7月公布、2013年2月交割的中国海洋石油总公司以151亿加元的对价全面收购加拿大尼克森油气公司(Nexen Inc.)。这是截止目前中国海外投资单笔最大的交易,也位居加拿大2012年超级并购案排行榜首位,独占鳌头。

机遇总是伴随着挑战。中资企业在加拿大投资,面对着生疏的国度和语言环境、遭遇着迥异的文化和法律制度、经受着不一样的开发和运营理念,深感不适甚至经受困难都是正常的。笔者在加拿大接触了众多中国企业的投资案例,深刻体会到中资企业所面临的挑战很多是在不甚了解加国本土规则和惯例的情况下照搬中国思维方式和行为模式所造成的。换言之,强化中国投资者本土化意识和实践越来越成为中国企业走出去首先需要解决的问题。

举一个较为普遍的例子——矿产项目评估。中国早期矿业投资者往往比照国内矿产资源评判标准对加国的项目给予评估,尤其看重的是目标项目的占地面积、矿权数量、预估的资源量、单一金属品位等参数中的一个或数个。但实际情况是,加拿大拥有本国的通用技术标准——即43-101技术标准(National Instrument 43-101)。如果不依照43-101标准而仅仅参考上述指标中的一个或几个做出判断,那么评估很可能陷入误区或者造成误判。

首先,占地面积和矿权数量均不是考量矿产资源经济价值的指标。与中国不同,在加拿大申请和维系矿权(mining claims)的成本较低,拥有大面积土地上的几十个甚至上百个矿权并不需要很高的技术和资金门槛。其次,资源量本身不是评判经济价值的绝对参数。43-101标准项下有资源量(resources)和储量(reserves)两个概念:前者是指具有潜在价值的、合理预期能够进行最终经济采掘的技术参数;而储量则是资源量的子集,指的是能够进行经济上和技术上可行性开采的资源量。鉴于中国矿业标准中没有相对应的概念,中国投资者往往混淆或等同这两个指标。应当指出的是,资源量同样具有经济价值,但43-101技术报告中的储量(如有)则意味着技术和经济层面上更大的确定性和更小的投资风险。最后,单个金属品位是一个重要的指标,但必须结合该资产的其他因素共同做出评判,尤其需要重点分析的是将储量真正转化为销售收入或利润的资金投入和时间成本。

除早期评估外,在项目开发和运营过程中还存在一系列需要中国投资者认真对待和妥善解决的问题,比如投资架构的设计。几年前,中国资源类企业对外投资的基本出发点是全面收购,或者至少取得目标项目50%以上的控制权。但取得控制权的中国投资者所面临的却是在异国他乡单枪匹马独自打拼的种种困境,投资和运营的高风险和不确定性逐步彰显。为此,经过反思的中资投资者正在悄然改变着他们的对外投资模式——从绝对控制向战略投资转化。现在的中国企业更倾向于取得上市公司的立足权益(toe-hold interests)2 ,同时在资产层面构建合资合作或者签署包销协议。这种新型投资模式的优势在于既可以帮助中国投资人尽量规避在海外(尤其是发达国家)实际运营资源类企业的巨大风险,也可以充分利用本土合作方的知识技能和人才储备,同时亦能够实现对于海外资源和产品在一定程度上的控制力和话语权。

在加拿大投资和运营资源性企业还可能面临的问题包括全面理解和履行加拿大的外资准入规则、协调原住民和其他利益相关方的关系、环评和安全的合规性审查、以及团队构建和劳工管理等等。这些困扰中国投资者的问题或者是在中国不存在(如原住民问题),或者是缘于加国更为严格的法律法规(如环保事项),或者是中国投资者在加国投资所面临的独特挑战(如建立中西合璧的团队等)。

认识挑战是对症下药的第一步。笔者希望结合自己的经验、通过一系列的文章与中国投资者尤其是在自然资源领域投资的中国企业共同探讨和分享加国的投资环境、法律监管、合规审查和最优实践,目的在于协助中国企业尽快完成本土化的进程,在享有加国投资优势的同时从容的面对和战胜挑战。

笔者的下一篇文章将与各位探讨加拿大的外商准入规则。

1 比如加国钾盐的探明储量和产量居世界首位;高品位低成本的铀矿储量全球最大;镍矿占全球储量的8%,产量居世界第二;另外钴、锌、铝、钛精矿、盐、铂等矿产位居世界前五。

2 就加拿大的上市公司而言,这个立足权益在实践中或者为上市公司9.9%的权益(依照现行的证券规则,拥有不超过10%上市公司具有投票权的股权无需披露)或者为上市公司19.9%的权益(即不成为上市公司的"控制人",因而避免股东批准或者避免触发全面并购的规则)。

欲了解关于此主题的更多信息,请联络铭伦律师事务所的以下成员:

The foregoing provides only an overview. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, a qualified lawyer should be consulted.

© Copyright 2013 McMillan LLP

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