CALGARY – Final arguments in Suncor Energy’s hostile bid for Canadian Oil Sands played out before Alberta regulators on Friday, with lawyers for COS insisting shareholders need more time to consider their options, while those for Suncor said time for its takeover target is running out.
David Tupper, lawyer for Suncor Energy, told the Alberta Securities Commission that it should overturn the COS plan to give its shareholders 120 days to consider Suncor’s $4.5-billion all-stock takeover offer.
Tupper said the COS plan lacks shareholder approval, noting that its board went against the 60-day timeline to vote on takeovers that shareholders nearly unanimously approved in 2010 and 2013.
He warned that the COS share price would likely see a significant drop if the COS plan is upheld because Suncor will not extend its 60-day offer, which is set to expire next Friday.
“Not the Christmas present you want under the tree,” said Tupper on the second day of hearings.
He also said there is little likelihood that a new buyer will come forward — even though COS has said 25 other parties have looked into possibly investing.
“To have 25 parties in a process means you must have contacted 7-Eleven and Walmart,” Tupper quipped, quoting TV business personality Kevin O’ Leary.
Tristram Mallett, part of the COS legal team, accused Suncor of issuing passive-aggressive threats and objected to that company’s portrayal of COS as a “financial basket case.”
“There’s a lot of fear mongering going on here,” said Mallett.
He said COS will likely only be able to find alternative bidders under its extended timeline.
“Without the rights plan there is little chance of success,” said Mallett. “With a rights plan, a good chance.”
Mallett said the upcoming COS 2016 budget, set to be released Dec. 1, is too close to the Suncor offer for shareholders to properly assess, and that there is shareholder support for a delay.
He said shareholders choice is the central issue, which will be achieved under the extended plan.
“The objective of shareholder choice is facilitated with time, time is achieved with the continued operation of the rights plan,” said Mallett.
The commission panel reserved its judgment until Monday.