Monday, February 14, 2011

Free Market Mercantalism

The Federal Government has already blocked two big sales: most recently with the attempted takeover of Potash Corporation and the other in 2008 with the attempted takeover of a space division of MacDonald, Dettwiler & Associates by American Alliant Techsystems.

Recent news on the merger of the Toronto Stock Exchange with the London Stock Exchange is interesting because it again forces the Federal Government to consider what precisely constitutes a "net benefit to Canada".

Ontario's Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan has already weighed-in with negative comments on the merger. With provincial jurisdiction in securities exchange, this allows the province to move into the murky waters of trade regulation, which is awkward for Ontario considering this is not a natural role for a province.

Two things to watch:
The first, this is similar to the Potash debate in that it pits a conservative minded stakeholder group which probably is probably pre-disposed to free market ideas and less government regulations (Bay Street lawyers and traders) to make protectionist arguments. Usually in this instance, the Federal Conservative's opt for the votes instead of ideology. However, Harper is recieving increasingly nasty editorials from his neo-conservative allies at the National Post which may continue to weigh on him.

Second development to watch is the jurisdictional battle between the provincial and federal governments, since both appear to have the ability to block the sale. Will both governments decide against the merger? Or is there an incentive for one government to pre-emptively declare the merger not a "net benefit to Ontario/Canada" while the other stands on the sidelines?

No comments:

Post a Comment